(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 750,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Just 68% 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:
Nov 04, 7:20 pm
US at 'inflection point' heading into winter months
The U.S. is at an "inflection point" heading into the colder winter months, the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said this week in its latest COVID-19 forecast.
Throughout the fall, increases in case incidence were mostly concentrated in areas with poor vaccination rates, such as in communities across Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. However, there is growing concern among experts that both colder weather and an increase in indoor gatherings, such as over Halloween weekend, will "further drive increases in COVID-19 transmission over the next couple of weeks."
The U.S. is likely at a critical moment for more highly vaccinated areas with colder weather and holiday gatherings approaching, according to the group.
"The coming weeks will reveal whether other highly vaccinated regions in the West, Midwest, and Northeast can maintain steady incidence rates -- and more importantly stable or declining hospitalizations -- amidst the increasing pressure of even colder weather and more gatherings," experts wrote.
-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
Nov 04, 3:21 pm
Alaska, Montana lead US infection rate
Despite boasting high vaccination rates, several Northern states, particularly in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, continue to see their case numbers tick up as the weather gets colder, according to federal data.
Alaska currently has the country's highest infection rate, followed by Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.
The U.S. daily death average, though down from 1,800 deaths reported each day in September, remains around 1,100 – which is nearly six-times higher than mid-June, according to federal data.
-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
Nov 04, 2:49 pm
Indiana governor plans on lawsuit challenging federal vaccine mandate
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he's directing the state's labor department to "work with the Attorney General on a lawsuit challenging the federal government" in the wake of the Biden administration's announcement that large businesses must begin enforcing a vaccine-or-test mandate Jan. 4.
Holcomb in a statement Thursday called Biden's plan "an overreach of the government’s role."
"While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce," he said.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also said he'd "fight" the mandate.
"If this rule is allowed to take effect, many Nebraskans will be at risk of losing their jobs over something that should remain a personal health choice," Ricketts said in a statement. "I have been in communication with the Attorney General today, who will be taking the lead on Nebraska’s legal review of the potentially illegal federal vaccine mandate. We will fight back."
The vaccine mandates for businesses with 100 or more workers is a part of a sweeping new federal plan that identifies COVID-19 as an occupational hazard in the workplace. Industry groups had pressed the administration to give businesses extra time, warning that imposing any mandates now would exacerbate the nation’s worker shortage. The plan gives federal contractors an extra month to comply, sliding back the previously-set Dec. 8 deadline.
Nov 04, 1:55 pm
Walensky addresses vaccine mandate
As Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC director Rochelle Walensky testified Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, they spoke to the vaccine mandate that'll soon be in effect for businesses with 100 or more employees.
Walensky said, "We know the most disruptive thing in our workforce is to have a COVID outbreak and to have workers in that workforce come down with COVID infection, severe disease, and in some cases, death."
"Vaccination, as we've seen, decreases your risk of infection by sixfold, decreases your risk of hospitalization and death by tenfold -- even during this delta surge. So there's absolutely a public health priority to get people vaccinated and to continue the important prevention and mitigation strategies including masking to keep them safe," she said.
-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett
Nov 04, 11:51 am
NYC kids can get $100 for vaccine at city-run site
New York City kids ages 5 to 11 can get $100 for getting vaccinated at a city-run site, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
Nov 04, 10:08 am
UK authorizes Merck's COVID treatment
The United Kingdom has authorized Merck's COVID-19 treatment, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
Clinical studies suggest Merck's COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, may reduce the ability of the virus to multiply in the body, thereby preventing hospitalization or death in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.
The UK's Medicines + Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the antiviral drug was found to be safe and effective following a stringent review of the available evidence.
Nov 04, 8:45 am
Majority of US workers to fall under vaccine mandate on Jan. 4
Nearly 100 million U.S. workers will be required to get the COVID vaccine by Jan. 4, with some workers allowed to test weekly instead, under sweeping federal rules released Thursday by the Biden administration that identifies COVID-19 as an occupational hazard.
The regulations are aimed at health care workers and businesses with 100 or more employees, covering two-thirds of the nation’s workforce. Businesses that don’t comply could be fined $14,000 per infraction and hospitals could lose access to Medicare and Medicaid dollars.
Biden’s plan also gives federal contractors an extra month to comply, sliding a previous Dec. 8 deadline set by the administration. Federal workers are still required to be vaccinated by Nov. 22.
Nov 03, 3:11 pm
White House says central vaccine website will be live for kids on Friday
Vaccines.gov is not yet live with appointments for children, but White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients says the site will be up and running Friday.
"You need to get the vaccines to those sites," he said at a Wednesday White House briefing. "Over the next 24 hours alone there will be millions more doses in the air and on trucks heading to cities and towns across the country. From Bar Harbor, Maine, to Anchorage, Alaska, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Packing and shipping will continue over the weekend and into next week, with doses arriving at thousands of vaccination sites in every state, tribe and territory."
CVS said it will offer the pediatric vaccine at "nearly 1,700" pharmacy locations across 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., beginning Nov. 7.
Parents can start scheduling CVS appointments online now.
Nov 03, 2:46 pm
Colorado now has its highest hospitalization rate since December
Health officials in Colorado are growing increasingly concerned as the state's daily case rate has more than doubled in the last month.
Nearly 200 COVID-19 patients are being admitted to hospitals each day -- the highest number of people seeking care since December 2020, according to federal data.
There are currently more than 1,300 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across Colorado, the majority of whom -- 80% -- are unvaccinated, according to state data.
With the statewide hospital capacity falling under 10%, Gov. Jared Polis has signed a "particularly urgent" executive order that would permit the state's health department to order hospitals to transfer or stop admitting patients after reaching or nearing capacity.
Federal data show just 61.7% of the state's total population is fully vaccinated.