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(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 4.9 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 735,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 67% 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:

Oct 25, 10:23 am
Cases dropping across US but rising in some Midwest, Northeast states

In the last month, the daily case average in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 43% thanks to falling metrics in states like Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, which have all seen their case averages drop by nearly 90% or more since August, according to federal data.

But in recent weeks, cases have been creeping up in several states in the Northeast and the upper Midwest, including Minnesota and Michigan.

Alaska currently has the country’s highest infection rate, followed by Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and North Dakota, according to federal data.

About 52,000 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized across the U.S., a major drop from the 104,000 hospitalized patients in late August.

But the U.S. death toll remains persistently high, with nearly 1,300 new deaths being reported each day, according to federal data.

Oct 25, 9:36 am
Moderna says its pediatric vaccine produces strong immune response in kids 6 to 11

Moderna has announced that its vaccine produces a strong immune response for children 6 to 11 and appears safe.

The study, which included 4,753 kids, found that side effects were generally consistent with those seen in adolescents and adults, such as fatigue, headache, fever and sore arm.

Moderna said it plans to submit this data to the FDA soon.

Meanwhile, FDA advisors are planning to meet this week to discuss Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Full authorization is possible by early November.

Oct 25, 8:12 am
Former CDC head ‘very encouraged’ by US data

Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that he’s “very encouraged” by the country’s current COVID-19 metrics.

Speaking to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview on Good Morning America, Besser said the United States is “definitely” moving in the right direction with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the decline in “a lot of communities” and vaccinations on the rise.

As the Halloween holiday draws near, Besser advised families living in areas where COVID-19 numbers are going down to remain vigilant by wearing protective face masks and using hand sanitizer when trick-or-treating this year. Otherwise, he encouraged them to “enjoy the holiday.”

“These kinds of things are very good for emotional health and you can do them safely,” explained Besser, who is now the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

When asked whether he thinks the situation will improve to a point where children won’t need to wear masks in school, Besser said it will come down to what’s happening at the community level.

“I think if we’re in a situation where vaccines are available and the rate of disease in the community is very low, we’ll get to a point where we won’t need masks anymore,” he said. “There will be a day where kids can go to school without masks and just be kids.”

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