COVID-19 live updates: CDC committee to meet on Moderna, J&J boosters

(NEW YORK) — The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 710,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.8 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 65.8% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

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

Oct 08, 4:48 pm
Spirit Airlines to require vaccines for employees

Spirit Airlines is joining other major carriers and will soon require all employees to be vaccinated. A deadline for the vaccination requirement has not been announced.

Delta is now the only major carrier to not have an employee vaccine mandate. However, in November the airline will begin charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month for health insurance.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney

Oct 08, 3:20 pm
Cases, hospitalizations see major drop

The daily case average in the U.S. has dropped to 95,000, a 38.9% drop in the last month, according to federal data.

The states that were first hit by the delta surge are experiencing the most notable case declines. In the last month, the seven-day average of new cases in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana fell by more than 55%.

Other states, however, are just now bearing the brunt of the highly infectious delta variant. West Virginia, Alaska and Montana are all still experiencing significant surges, according to federal data.

National hospitalization levels have dropped to around 67,000 patients, federal data show. Since the beginning of September, the U.S. has seen a drop of more than 37,000 patients. A little more than one-third of those patients — 13,000 — come from Florida.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 08, 1:50 pm
CDC committee to meet on Moderna, J&J boosters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent advisory committee plans to meet on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 to discuss the Moderna and Johnson &Johnson vaccine boosters. This will follow the Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisers who are set to meet and vote on boosters on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15.

That means Moderna and J&J boosters could be authorized, recommended and available as soon as Oct. 22.

The CDC committee is also set to meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 to discuss pediatric vaccinations.

-ABC News’ Eric M. Strauss

Oct 08, 12:32 pm
LSU ends COVID protocols for football games

Louisiana State University said Friday that fans at its football games will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test beginning with the Oct. 16 game.

LSU said the change is due to a “consistent and significant decline in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state of Louisiana and in the Baton Rouge area.”

Masks will still be required for all attendees.

Oct 08, 8:13 am
Former CDC head ‘cautiously optimistic’ about vaccines for kids

Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and former acting director of the CDC, told “Good Morning America” Friday that he’s “cautiously optimistic” about vaccine approval for young children, adding that he’ll be closely watching the reviews by the FDA and CDC.

“Thankfully children have been impacted by COVID less severely than adults and I want to make sure, as a pediatrician, before I recommend this to my patients, I’m convinced that it’s safe and it’s effective,” Besser said. “The information I’ve seen so far gives me a lot of hope.”

The Florida Board of Education has authorized the state’s education commissioner to sanction the board members of eight school districts that have continued to require masks for students in defiance of state rules.

In the latest development in the state’s battle over mask mandates, board members in Florida’s largest districts — Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward — as well as Alachua, Brevard, Duval, Leon and Orange will have their salaries withheld following Thursday’s vote, officials said.

“For nearly two months now, these school districts have barred from the school house doors thousands of children, many of whom have significant disabilities or health-related reasons that prevent them from learning with a face mask on,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement.

Corcoran also slammed the Broward and Alachua districts, which were previously sanctioned in August and September, for accepting funds from the Biden administration to make up for lost paychecks, calling it “political bailouts from federal co-conspirators.”

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