(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 623,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 59.5% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Aug 20, 10:48 am
Unvaccinated Black people ‘biggest group’ driving COVID spike: Texas Lt Gov

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham that “African-Americans who have not been vaccinated” are the “the biggest group in most states” driving the spike in COVID-19 cases, during a Thursday interview.

Patrick doubled down on his comment, adding that “over 90% of them vote for Democrats and their major cities and major counties.”

“It’s up to the Democrats to get — just as it’s up to Republicans to try to get as many people vaccinated,” he said. “In terms of criticizing the Republicans for this, we are encouraging people who want to take it to take it, but they are doing nothing for the African-American community that has significant high number of unvaccinated.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson pushed back in a statement: “Lt. Governor Dan Patrick lives in an alternate reality, where facts don’t matter,” Johnson said.

“He’s delusional. Black Texans are not the driving force behind the surge of COVID cases in Texas. His statement is not only baseless, it’s racist. Falsely casting blame on the Black community is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and we expect better from an elected official.”

Aug 19, 5:57 pm
Mississippi’s only pediatric hospital sees record COVID-19 patients

Children’s of Mississippi, the state’s only pediatric hospital, reported a record number of patients Thursday.

There are 28 children, all unvaccinated, with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, the highest since the start of the pandemic, the hospital said on Facebook. Among those, eight children are in the intensive care unit, including five not yet old enough to receive the vaccine, the hospital said.

“The best way to protect ALL of Mississippi’s kids from COVID-19 is for everyone age 12 and up to get vaccinated,” said the hospital, which is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Nearly 43% of Mississippi residents ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, one of the lowest rates in the country.

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