COVID-19 live updates: Florida, Texas account for nearly 40% of new hospitalizations

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

More than 618,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.3 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 58.9% 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 13, 8:03 am
Former acting CDC head talks next steps for booster shots

Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the CDC, told Good Morning America that he expects booster shots will “be available to people with immune disorders very quickly.”

The FDA announced late Thursday that immunocompromised Americans – such as cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with HIV and people on immunosuppressant drugs — will be able to get a third shot of Pfizer or Moderna.

But Besser stressed, “I think about this less as a booster shot” and more of “a recognition that for certain people with immune problems, two doses wasn’t enough” and “the third dose is necessary for them to get the same high level of protection that the rest of people do.”

The CDC panel is expected to vote to recommend the third dose when it meets Friday at 11 a.m. and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will likely sign off after a Friday afternoon vote.

Aug 13, 5:27 am
Alabama children’s hospital sees rise in patients

Children’s of Alabama reported a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 positive patients being treated at the hospital in recent weeks.

As of Thursday, the hospital said it is treating 22 COVID-19 positive patients, five of whom are on ventilators.

The hospital said in January, at the height of the last surge, their highest number of patients was 13.

“There are three proven ways to slow the spread of this highly transmissible strain of the virus: Vaccination for everyone 12 and up, masking, especially when indoors, and social distancing,” the hospital wrote in a Facebook statement.

Aug 12, 11:48 pm
FDA authorizes booster shot for immunocompromised

Immunocompromised Americans will be able to get a third shot of either of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced late Thursday.

The booster will be targeted specifically for people who did not have an ideal immune response to their initial vaccines, which has proven to be the case for many cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with HIV and people on immunosuppressant drugs.

“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.”

For more, read ABC News’ full story on the authorization.

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