Coronavirus Updates: Number of Americans hospitalized could double by mid-September

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new forecast warns the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID could double by mid-September.

The CDC says unvaccinated people are 29% more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people.

COVID deaths are up 23% nationwide in the last week.

The good news is that vaccinations are at a six-week high, but the bad news is the delta variant is taking a toll.

Vaccine effectiveness at preventing an infection dropped from 91% before the variant to 66% now.

Here are more of today's headlines:



Masks required in most Long Island school districts, others not yet adjusting policies
Several school districts on Long Island said Wednesday, despite New York Governor Kathy Hochul's order, they're not adjusting their optional mask wearing policies this fall until they receive definitive guidance from the State Department of Health.

Municipal unions protest vaccination mandates
Union workers outside City Hall on Wednesday protested vaccination mandates requiring them to get a COVID-19 shot or risk losing their jobs.

The latest numbers from New York City show that nearly 97% of people hospitalized with coronavirus right now are unvaccinated.

Of New York City's entire municipal workforce, the NYPD has among the lowest vaccination rates at just under 50%.

But effective next month, every city worker -- from police officers and firefighters to office workers, public schoolteachers and hospital staff -- must be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.

From CVS to Goldman Sachs, FDA Pfizer approval prompts COVID vaccine mandates
From Walt Disney World to Goldman Sachs, a flurry of private and public employers are requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the federal government gave full approval to the Pfizer shot. And the number is certain to grow much higher.

For the past eight months, coronavirus shots were dispensed in the U.S. under emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Some workers and unions objected to getting the vaccine - and some employers were reluctant to require it - because it had yet to receive FDA full approval. That happened on Monday.

Marvel creates exclusive Avengers comic as vaccine incentive for teens
Children 12 and older in New York City can now receive a limited edition issue of the Avengers comic book series from Marvel Comics in return for getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

The exclusive issue was developed in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and SOMOS Community Care as part of a new campaign pushing to get kids in the city vaccinated as they head back to school.

Moderna completes submission for full FDA approval of COVID vaccine
Moderna announced on Wednesday it has completed its submission to the US Food and Drug Administration for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for people age 18 and older, and Pfizer and BioNTech announced they have begun submitting data for full FDA approval of a third dose of their vaccine.

Moderna said it has requested priority review from the FDA. The company began submitting data for its Biologics License Application, or BLA, to the FDA in June.

COVID-19 cases in children reach levels not seen since winter surge
Last week, the number of COVID-19 cases in children in the US reached levels not seen since the winter surge. And with the return to school, the Delta variant on the rise and winter approaching, health officials are concerned it could get worse.

After a decline in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially -- with more than a four-fold increase in the past month, according to the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

From about 38,000 cases a week near the end of July, the week ending August 19 saw more than 180,000 cases in children, the report said.

US military members must get COVID vaccine ASAP, defense secretary says
Military troops must immediately begin to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo Wednesday, ordering service leaders to "impose ambitious timelines for implementation."

More than 800,000 service members have yet to get their shots, according to Pentagon data. And now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the Defense Department is adding it to the list of required shots troops must get as part of their military service.

Delta Air Lines will make unvaccinated employees pay $200 monthly charge
Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline's top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus costs the airline $40,000.

CEO Ed Bastian said that all employees who have been hospitalized for the virus in recent weeks were not fully vaccinated.

The airline said Wednesday that it also will stop extending pay protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 on Sept. 30, and will require unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly beginning Sept. 12, although Delta will cover the cost. They will have to wear masks in all indoor company settings.

Johnson & Johnson booster shot generates huge spike in COVID antibodies, company says
Booster doses of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine generated a big spike in antibodies, the frontline immune system defenses against infection, the company reported Wednesday.

People who received a booster six to eight months after their initial J&J shots saw antibodies increase nine-fold higher than 28 days after the first shot, Johnson & Johnson said.

The data comes from two Phase 2 studies conducted in the United States and Europe, the company said in a statement. Some of the 2,000 or so people in the studies got booster doses six months after their first doses of J&J's Janssen vaccine.

Gov. Hochul adds 12,000 deaths to publicized COVID tally
Following through on a promise of more transparency in government, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration has published COVID death statistics that the Cuomo administration did not make public.

The administration is acknowledging nearly 12,000 more deaths in the state from COVID-19 than previously publicized.

New York now reports nearly 55,400 people have died of COVID-19 in New York based on death certificate data submitted to the CDC, up from about 43,400 that Gov. Cuomo had reported to the public as of Monday, his last day in office.

Breakthrough COVID cases rare in NYC
The latest NYC Health Department data shows only 0.33% of fully vaccinated New Yorkers have been diagnosed with breakthough cases of the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. The data shows 96.9% of NYC COVID hospitalizations are made up of unvaccinated people, the mayor said.

J&J booster shows promising data
Giving a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot six months after primary vaccination results in a nine-fold antibody increase, according to the company. The study itself has not yet been published, but results were described in a press release by the company.

Hochul pushes for vaccine/testing mandate
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York will require vaccinations for all school personnel in the state with an option to test out weekly, "at least for now."

She will plan on announcing more school-related policies next week.

US could enter spring of 2022 with COVID 'under control' if enough people get vaccinated, Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci urged the public to get vaccinated and said if the "overwhelming majority" of the population does so the US could have the pandemic "under control" by spring of 2022.

It isn't yet clear to health experts what proportion of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach a level of protection that could sustain a return to normalcy, like safely going to restaurants and theaters, Fauci said. So the best way forward is to vaccinate as many people as possible, he said.

What to know about delta and other COVID-19 variants of concern
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the COVID-19 delta variant as one of its "variants of concern" (VOCs) on June 15. According to the CDC, VOCs can be more contagious, more dangerous, less susceptible to available treatments or harder to detect. The current VOCs all have mutations in the virus's spike protein, which acts as a key to break into cells to infect them. And that's a potential concern because the spike protein from the original version of the virus is what scientists used to design all three authorized vaccines. It's also what monoclonal antibody treatments latch on to so the virus can't get into your cells, effectively "neutralizing" the threat. So far none of these mutations have changed the virus enough to undercut the vaccines. The uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, means the virus is mutating quickly. That's why many new variants are being discovered in places with the highest infection rates and large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, like the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

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