COVID News: US coronavirus death toll eclipses 1918 influenza pandemic estimates

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

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Monday, September 20, 2021
Pfizer says COVID vaccine safe, effective for kids 5-11
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Pfizer says new data from its own research has determined its vaccine is safe and effective for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The U.S. coronavirus death toll has now surpassed that of the 1918 flu pandemic, according to newly updated data from Johns Hopkins University.

The 1918 influenza pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, equivalent in proportion to 200 million in today's global population.

An estimated 675,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States.

Now, 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic, the virus has claimed more American lives than its counterpart a hundred years ago, with at least 675,446 Americans confirmed lost to COVID-19.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:

CDC to consider booster shots after FDA rulings

The CDC Advisory Committee will meet this week to discuss booster shots, including whom should get one and when. The meeting comes after an FDA advisory panel met last week, recommending the Pfizer booster for those 65 and older and anyone with high risk of severe COVID. The panel voted down the booster for the general public.

New NJ mask mandate and vaccine requirement for child care

All child care workers and facility employees in child care settings must be fully vaccinated by November 1 or face regular weekly testing in New Jersey, Governor Murphy announced on Monday. Also, effective September 24, all employees, students, and children in a facility's care ages two and over, as well as visitors must wear masks indoors, with limited exceptions.

Weekly COVID testing to resume in NYC schools next Monday

After pressure from the teachers union, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that NYC public schools will return to weekly COVID testing of a portion of students at every school. And if there is a positive test in a classroom, unvaccinated students will not have to quarantine if they are masked and have maintained a three-foot distance. This is in alignment with CDC guidance, the mayor said.

"We've been looking at these two issues over the last few weeks," he said. "We looked at it in light of the data from the first week of school. We decided to make both of these changes simultaneously, and they do complement each other."

Expectant mother, on life support, survives COVID with her pregnancy intact

A pregnant California woman survived a harrowing COVID infection after doctors took extraordinary measures to save her life and the life of her unborn baby. In an interview with our sister station ABC7, Katie Pederson explained why she waited to get vaccinated and what she wants other expectant moms to know. When Pederson found out she was having a baby, very few pregnant women were getting COVID-19 vaccines.

"I was going to wait until my third trimester until it was more readily available and there was more information. I felt safe in my decision, until I wasn't," said Pederson.

Pfizer says COVID vaccine safe, effective for kids ages 5 to 11

Data shows the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11, the companies announced Monday morning.

"We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children," Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. "Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. -- underscoring the public health need for vaccination."

There were 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11 in the trial, which, while it still followed a two-dose regimen, used a lesser dose than the amount given to people ages 12 and older, for the "safety, tolerability and immunogenicity" of younger children.

"In participants 5 to 11 years of age, the vaccine was safe, well-tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses," the companies said in a news release.

Biden easing international travel restrictions, requiring vaccines for foreign nationals

President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated. All foreign travelers flying to the U.S. will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight, said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the new policy on Monday. Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home. Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, Zients said.

Super-spreader concern as UN General Assembly meets in NYC

New Yorkers who enjoyed the peace and quiet of the United Nations' virtual General Assembly meeting last year can expect to face some heavy traffic as dozens of world leaders, including President Joe Biden, converge on the city. The greater concern, though, appears to be preventing the meeting from becoming a COVID super-spreader event. New York City officials have requested that leaders show proof they are fully vaccinated before entering the U.N. hall for the opening ceremonies.

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