(NEW YORK) -- The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.
More than 677,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.7 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. The average number of daily deaths in the U.S. has risen about 20% in the last week, according to data from the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The U.S. is continuing to sink on the list of global vaccination rates, currently ranking No. 45, according to data compiled by the Financial Times. Just 64% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Sep 22, 7:48 pm
FDA authorizes Pfizer booster dose for those who are 65 and up, high-risk
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for people who are 65 and older or at high risk of severe COVID-19, the agency announced Wednesday.
The dose is authorized to be administered at least six months after the second shot. High-risk recipients must be at least 18 years old.
The announcement comes days after a similar recommendation from FDA advisers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory board is scheduled to vote on booster recommendations Thursday.
Sep 22, 6:04 pm
Florida letting parents choose whether to quarantine asymptomatic, close-contact children
The Florida Department of Health issued an emergency rule Wednesday that lets parents choose whether to quarantine their children if they are deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
In such cases, parents can let their children "attend school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property, without restrictions or disparate treatment, so long as the student remains asymptomatic," the emergency rule stated.
The move is the state's latest to empower parents when it comes to coronavirus measures in schools. In July, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order giving parents the choice of whether to send their kids to school with masks, setting off an intense back-and-forth between the state and districts that mandated masks in the weeks since.
DeSantis touted the new "symptoms-based approach" during a press briefing Wednesday.
"Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging to their educational advancement," he said. "It's also incredibly disruptive for families all throughout the state of Florida."
At least one superintendent in Florida has spoken out against the new quarantine rule.
"I find it ironic that the new state rule begins with the phrase 'Because of an increase in COVID-19 infections, largely due to the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant,'" Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, said in a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday.
"In fact, this rule is likely to promote the spread of COVID-19 by preventing schools from implementing the common-sense masking and quarantine policies recommended by the vast majority of health care professionals, including those here in Alachua County," she added.
-ABC News' Will McDuffie
Sep 22, 4:07 pm
Booster shots appear safe from preliminary data
At the ongoing CDC advisory committee meeting, Dr. Anne Hause presented preliminary data showing a low rate of serious adverse events among the over 2 million people who have already received booster doses.
Nearly all adverse events reported were not serious (95%) for both Pfizer and Moderna third doses, according to data collected from the national reporting system, which is not a formal, controlled study.
Dr. Sara Oliver of the CDC called booster effectiveness and safety data “reassuring," adding, "but many unknowns remain.
Committee member Dr. Sarah Long urged her colleagues to stay focused on how well vaccines specifically prevent hospitalizations and severe illness.
“I would just encourage us not to lump infection and hospitalization,” Long said. “I don’t think there’s any hope that vaccines such as the ones we have will prevent infection, after the first maybe couple weeks that you have those extraordinary immediate responses."
Sep 22, 3:40 pm
Nevada county declares health misinformation a public health crisis
Nevada's Clark County, home to Las Vegas, is declaring health misinformation a public health crisis following a 5-2 vote from the Clark County Commission.
This follows the same move in the California counties of San Diego, Sacramento and Monterey in an effort to tackle misinformation.
When the proposal was introduced in Clark County, 83.7% of cases and 96.7% of hospitalizations were among people who were not fully vaccinated.
Sep 22, 3:16 pm
71M eligible Americans still haven't gotten a shot, White House estimates
About 71 million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine have still not gotten a shot, said White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar.
About one month ago, the White House said about 82 million eligible Americans didn't have the shot.
Wednesday just in: +713K doses reported administered over yesterday's total, including 290K newly vaccinated and 62K additional doses. Every day we chip away at the unvaccinated. Now 71M are eligible but haven't yet gotten a dose. Let's try to reach them.