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

More than 722,000 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 66.5% 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 18, 3:24 pm
CDC now counts those with AstraZeneca, Novavax shots as ‘fully vaccinated’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its definition of what it means to be “fully vaccinated” to include people who got the AstraZeneca and Novavax doses in clinical trials.

A person also should be considered fully immunized even if they mix their vaccines, the CDC announced Monday.

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine

The new guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — and can be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as AstraZeneca and Oxford.

The CDC is not recommending vaccines that are not FDA-authorized and has not yet made a decision on official guidelines for mixing doses.

The new guidance on interpreting vaccine records does not impact CDC recommendations on primary series vaccination and should not guide clinical practice, according to the CDC.

ABC News’ Anne Flaherty

Oct 18, 1:45 pm
US sees 50% drop in daily cases

Coronavirus infections are steadily falling across the country, thanks to significant declines in highly populated states such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The number of daily cases in the U.S. has dropped 50% since Sept. 1, with a 43% drop in hospitalizations and a 21% drop in daily deaths.

However, an uptick in cases in Northern states is causing some concern.

In recent weeks, coronavirus infections have been creeping up in several states in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast. Eight states — Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont — have seen notable jumps in their case averages.

Experts have been warning for weeks that Northern states could begin to see upticks in the coming weeks as winter approaches, and people start to head indoors.

Alaska currently has the country’s highest case rate, followed by Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, and North Dakota, which all with case rates above 400 per 100,000 people.

Daily deaths are slowly falling, but remain persistently high. The nation is still reporting an average of 1,250 new deaths each day, and over the last four days alone, the U.S. reported just under 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

The death average is still about 6.5 times higher than in mid-July, when the national average had dropped to a near pandemic low of 192 deaths reported each day.

Nationally, hospitalization numbers have dropped to under 60,000 patients with COVID-19 currently receiving care, down from 104,000 patients in late August. Hospital admissions have also fallen by about 10.4% in the last week.

Approximately 113.5 million Americans remain completely unvaccinated. Just under 65.2 million of those people are over the age of 12. The other 48 million unvaccinated people are children under the age of 12.

ABC News’ Arielle Mitropolous

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.