COVID-19 Live Updates: Biden to Unveil 'Six-Pronged' Plan as Child Hospitalizations Reach Record High

Live Updates

President Biden will reveal a "six-pronged" plan to tackle spiraling COVID infections in a speech at 5:00 p.m. ET Thursday as the Delta variant overwhelms hospitals in several states.

The president is expected to discuss the executive order he signed that will require COVID-19 vaccines for federal employees and contractors.

The unveiling of the plan will come later Thursday as U.S. schools return to school and a record number of children are hospitalized with the virus. There are also fears about the spread of the Mu variant, which it has been suggested may bypass the protections given by currently available vaccines. Cases have been identified in all states except Nebraska.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. will likely increase over the next four weeks to reach between 683,000 and 710,000 by October 2.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Healthcare Workers Indiana
Healthcare workers prepare their PPE before entering a negative pressure room to tend to a patient on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of Baptist Health Floyd on September 7, 2021 in New Albany, Indiana. Rising numbers of COVID-19 infected patients continue to add to the strain ICUs and emergency rooms experience throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Psaki says Dr. Fauci did not mislead Congress about NIH Wuhan lab funding

During Thursday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended Dr. Antony Fauci's claims that the National Institute of Health (NIH) did not fund gain-of-function research for coronavirus in a Wuhan lab.

Psaki was asked if documents published by The Intercept prove that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci mislead Congress.

"NIH has refuted that reporting," she said. "NIH has never approved any research that would make a coronavirus more dangerous to humans."

She said the coronavirus included in the report that NIH supported was a different strain of the virus from the COVID-19 strain the world is currently battling.

"So what he said was correct," Psaki added.

Fauci told Congress in May that the NIH "has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

READ MORE:"Fauci Was 'Untruthful' to Congress About Wuhan Lab Research, New Documents Appear To Show"

Over 2,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arizona

Arizona reported over 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for the 10th straight day.

The state has 2,480 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 62 deaths Thursday, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard.

Hospital officials are under stress from the recent surge of COVID-19 cases amid staff shortages.

Arizona's seven-day rolling average of daily cases rose in the past two weeks from 2,626 on Aug. 24 to 2,907 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The average daily deaths rose from 19 to 32 during the same period.

Arizona health officials are reporting 2,480 new COVID-19 cases today -- including 316 in Pima County -- and 62 deaths statewide. https://t.co/IDY05SxY63 pic.twitter.com/Rooy3JuKNw

— KGUN 9 On Your Side (@kgun9) September 9, 2021

White House says vaccine mandates are a "positive step forward"

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki was pressed on vaccine mandates during a press briefing Thursday.

When asked if the White House supports vaccine mandates for students in schools, Psaki said the federal government thinks such mandates are "a positive step forward."

"It's always going to be up to local school districts and states and localities to make those determinations but we certainly do think that mandates and communities where they have put mandates in place is a positive step forward," she said.

Psaki was also asked whether the new federal vaccine mandate would extend to workers at private companies, even those who don't have federal contracts.

One reporter asked if the "Department of Labor or anybody else compel major employers, the large employers, to force the vaccine mandates on their employees?"

Psaki had a brief reply, saying "Yes, stay tuned. More to come this afternoon."

Jen Psaki says COVID is an "evolving, smart virus"

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki was asked if President Biden was "overconfident in July" when he declared "independence" from COVID-19.

"What we have said from the beginning is that this is an evolving virus, a smart virus that has produced additional variants that can spread very quickly, like the Delta variant," Psaki said.

"When we announced the mask mandate in May, only one percent of COVID-19 cases were the Delta variant. So obviously the information, data evolves and the steps we need to take to get the virus under control to help people return to normal have to evolve as well," she added.

Psaki was asked again if it was premature for Biden to say in July that the U.S. "gained the upper hand on the virus."

The reason we are here is because people have not gotten vaccinated–80 million of them," Psaki said. "Not because of any other reason, not because of a speech, not because of CDC guidance."

Psaki reiterated that the federal government is focused on getting more people vaccinated.

Federal employees have 75 days to get fully vaccinated, White House says

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Joe Biden will require federal employees to get vaccinated.

During a press briefing Thursday, Psaki said federal workers will have 75 days to be fully vaccinated and those who fail to comply will "face progressive disciplinary action."

"The expectation is that if you want to work in the federal government or be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated, unless you are eligible for one of the limited exceptions," she said.

She added that proof of vaccine will vary by agency and clarified that termination is possible if federal workers or contractors refuse to get the vaccine.

"We would like to be a model to what we think other businesses and organizations should do around the country," Psaki added.

Scotland votes for COVID-19 vaccine passport

Scotland will require proof of COVID-19 vaccine to enter certain venues, like nightclubs, and large events like football matches and music festivals.

"Certification provides a targeted and proportionate means to reduce risk while maximising our ability to keep open certain settings and events where transmission is a higher risk," the Scottish government said in a statement released Thursday.

The vaccine passport will be introduced by October 1 for people who are fully vaccinated in order to "suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future," the statement said.

The plan outlines the use of QR codes on smartphones as proof of vaccine.

People under the age of 18, participants in vaccine trials, people unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons and employees at venues within the scope of the plan are all exempt from vaccination certification.

Moderna working on a vaccine to protect from COVID-19 and the flu

Moderna is developing a single dose vaccine that will protect against COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, the company announced Thursday.

"Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu," Moderna's CEO, Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

A company's spokesperson told Newsweek that Moderna hasn't yet determined when the combination COVID-19/flu vaccine will begin clinical trials, but confirmed that it's currently advancing the single COVID-19 booster vaccine.

READ MORE:"Moderna Combo Single Dose COVID/Flu Booster: What You Need to Know"

Los Angeles school district to vote on student vaccine requirements

The Los Angeles Board of Education is expected to vote on a student vaccine mandate.

The proposal would require all students 12 and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend in-person instruction.

Most of the board members were either in favor or were leaning towards requiring vaccinations, The Los Angeles Times reported last week.

The Los Angles Unified School District is the second-largest school district in the country, with more than 640,000 students enrolled in K-12th grade.

The district already implemented weekly testing, mask-wearing indoors and outdoors and requires employees to be vaccinated.

READ MORE: "LA School District, Second Largest in U.S., Considering Vaccine Mandate for Some Students"

Doctors say the spread of the Mu variant is "not unexpected"

Doctors around the country are not surprised that the COVID-19 Mu variant has spread to 49 states.

"Within such a short time, we've seen the emergence of several variants of concerns and variants of interest. That's not unexpected," Dr. Bali Pulendran, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, told Newsweek.

The Mu variant was first identified in Columbia in January and was labeled a "variant of interests" by the World Health Organization on August 30 after early research showed the strain could be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines.

"From just travel from [Colombia], it was not if the [Mu] variant was going to hit our shores, it was when," Dr. O'Neil Pyke, chief medical officer of Jackson North Medical Center, said.

"The virus changes constantly and creates new variants," he explained. "This mutation that created the Mu variant has that potential for faster transmission and easier to spread, but so far, reports haven't shown it to be worse than the Delta variant."

READ MORE: "Doctors Across the Nation Unsurprised by Emergence of Mu Variant, 'Here We Go Again'"

Researches say the CDC is missing data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing home last year

Researchers believe that the federal government undercounted the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes.

A new study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is missing about 12 percent of COVID-19 cases and about 14 percent of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.

By these estimates, more than 118,300 nursing home residents died of COVID-19 last year.

The researchers said these data holes occurred because the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not require nursing homes to report cases and deaths until May 2020.

The new data relies on numbers from states that required fuller reporting.

Every county in Nevada under indoor mask mandate

Every county in Nevada has now enacted indoor mask requirements.

In counties experiencing "substantial or high transmission levels" of COVID-19, everyone is required to follow the mask mandate, including those who are fully vaccinated, according to Nevada Health Response.

All 17 counties in the state currently fall under this category.

As of Wednesday, Nevada's 14-day average for new COVID-19 cases was 868 and the 7-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations was 1,151, Nevada Health Response reported.

Take a look at the latest Nevada county mask guidance. All counties in Nevada with a substantial or high transmission classification are required to wear masks in public indoor settings, even if fully vaccinated. To learn more: https://t.co/I3wUh0TnAU pic.twitter.com/FaW575oKvj

— @NVHealthResponse (@NVHealthRespon1) September 9, 2021

U.K. regulatory agency approves COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

The U.K. has approved the use of Pfizer and AstraZeneca booster shots, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement Thursday.

"I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses," Dr. June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said in a statement.

Raine said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will determine if the booster shouts are needs and which groups will be eligible.

The JCVI said last week that the third dose should only be offered to people with severely weakened immune systems. That includes up to half a million people over the age of 12 in the U.K., according to the BBC.

Biden signs executive order requiring vaccinations for federal employees

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order to require all executive branch employees and contractors that work with the federal government to get vaccinated, a source familiar with the plans told the Associated Press.

This comes weeks after he mandated federal workers get the vaccine or submit to regular COVID-19 testing and mask requirements.

It is unclear yet whether the order makes exceptions for people with religious or medical exemption from vaccinations.

Biden is scheduled to unveil a six-pronged COVID-19 plan later Thursday.

More unvaccinated United Airlines employees get the shot amid airline's strict policy

United Airlines said more than half of its previously unvaccinated employees have received the shot since the airline announced it will require proof of vaccination to continue working.

This is part of the airline's policy to have all employees vaccinated by later September amid "dire" statistics around the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

United officials told the Associated Press that employees with religious or medical exemptions to vaccines will be put on unpaid leave until early October. Those whose exemptions are denied or refuse to get vaccinated will be fired.

COVAX to send 25% fewer vaccine doses to Africa for the rest of the year

Africa's already low supply of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to drop even more.

During a COVID-19 press briefing Thursday, the World Health Organization's Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said the continent will get "25 percent less doses than we were anticipating by the end of the year."

Moeti said that the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low and middle-income countries is getting cut again due to "the prioritization of bilateral deals over international solidarity" and the rollout of booster shots in some higher-income countries.

While COVAX has delivered over 5 million vaccine doses to African countries in the past week, Moeti notes that "three times as many doses have been thrown away in the United States alone" since March.

"Every dose is precious," Moeti said. "If companies and countries prioritize vaccine equity, this pandemic would be over quickly."

Just over 3 percent of people across Africa are fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That figure drops to 1.7 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Philippines reaches new record-high for daily COVID-19 cases

The Philippines reached a new record-high for daily COVID-19 cases.

The country reported 22,820 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,161,892 since the pandemic began.

There were 61 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, adding to the total of 34,733.

RECORD-HIGH DAILY TALLY

BREAKING: The Department of Health reported 22,820 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, September 9, 2021, bringing the total number of cases in the Philippines to 2,161,892. #COVID19PH pic.twitter.com/p4hqm5aFSg

— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) September 9, 2021

Japan extends COVID state of emergency

Officials announced earlier the country is extending the alert level, currently in place in Tokyo and 18 other areas until the end of September, as hospitals struggle to cope. A surge in cases coincided with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Almost one in five employees required to be vaccinated - poll

A new Gallup poll has found the number of Americans under a vaccine mandate from their employers has jumped in recent months, from six percent in June to 19 percent in August.

See the data analysis by Newsweek and Statista below...

One in five Americans under COVID mandate
Almost one in five Americans have said they are required by their employer to get vaccinated against COVID-19 Newsweek/Statista

WHO blames 'Delta, vaccine inequity and inconsistent public health measures' for COVID transmission

Dr @mvankerkhove explains 5⃣ factors that are driving #COVID19 transmission:
1⃣ the Delta variant
2⃣ vaccine inequity
3⃣ social mixing
4⃣ inconsistent use of public health & social measures
5⃣ misinformation pic.twitter.com/GkpQabSZb4

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) September 9, 2021

COVID takes 'downwards slide' in Africa as cases drop 23 percent in a week

The continent has hit the peak of its third wave of infections, WHO Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has said in a press conference just now.

The COVID-19 third wave in Africa has taken a downwards slide, with a 23 percent decrease in new cases last week, driven largely by countries in Northern and Southern Africa. That's the steepest drop in eight weeks since the peak in July.

She added that the Delta variant "sparked flare-ups" and was "prolonging the acute phase of the third wave" for longer than health experts anticipated.

WATCH: Idaho hospital chief explains why army is being drafted to help

What to expect from Biden's 'six-pronged' strategy

The president is due to make a major speech later today setting out his administration's plan to tackle the wave of Delta variant cases sweeping the U.S.

The White House has expressed concern at a slowdown in uptake of the COVID vaccines across many states - especially southern states where hospitals are now being overwhelmed with unvaccinated virus patients. This, it has been reported, will be key to Biden's plan.

Details have been kept secure on what new measures will be implemented but reports from CNN suggest the plan will include actions around schools, which are just reopening after the summer break, federal employees and private companies.

Individual government departments have been requiring staff to wear masks and get vaccinated, despite concerns about personal freedoms, meaning the president could today decide to introduce mandates for federal staff across the board.

Baby in Mississippi dies with COVID-19

The child, who hadn't yet turned 1, died after contracting the virus and makes them the first infant to die of COVID-related illness in the state, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirmed to Newsweek last night.

New data released on MSDH's website yesterday shows than 4,000 infections in children under 1 have been reported in the state so far.

While thousands of children under 18 have tested positive for the virus in Mississippi over the course of the pandemic, state health officials have reported few deaths in children. Two other deaths were reported in children between ages 1 and 5, and one death was reported in a child between ages 6 and 10.

READ MORE: Baby in Mississippi Dies with COVID

Woman who coughed on customer at grocery store fired from job

A clip of the incident involving the woman, identified as 54-year-old Janene Hoskovec, shows her telling other customers at a Super Saver in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 3 that they are "such sheep" before coughing on them.

During the video, entitled "Anti-Mask Karen Deliberately Coughing on me at South 27th Super Saver," Hoskovec is seen coughing at the woman, who is recording her and claims that she doesn't need to wear a mask because "I'm not sick and neither are you".

Hoskovec then smiles and claims that it's her allergies that are causing her to cough.

READ MORE: Janene Hoskovec, Woman Filmed Coughing on Shoppers in Nebraska Grocery Story, Fired by SAP

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

A record number of children are in hospital with COVID-19 as school return from the summer break, which has prompted the White House to come up with a "six-pronged" strategy to tackle the Delta variant.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Thursday for all the latest...