The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 629,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.4 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 60.2% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter spoke with ABC News about the vaccine mandate for public school staff that goes into effect Sept. 27.
Porter said she was confident that teachers and other staff members would comply to ensure that classrooms are safe for everyone.
“This is the additional extra layer of protection that we didn’t have a year ago,” she said.
Porter said she has been in discussions with the United Federation of Teachers over what the penalties will be if a teacher doesn’t comply, and she was told that “many of their members are already vaccinated.”
The chancellor said those who still have concerns should know that the Food and Drug Administration has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine and it has shown to prevent severe illness.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear tweeted a dire update on the state’s COVID-19 cases.
The state health department reported that 2,014 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, 589 of whom are in intensive care units and 338 are on ventilators. Beshear said these are record numbers.
“Folks, this is dangerous. Please, get vaccinated and mask up indoors,” the governor tweeted.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new mask requirement for outdoor activities.
The order, which goes into effect Friday, applies to all residents regardless of vaccine status during “outdoor settings in which individuals from different households are unable to consistently maintain physical distance.”
“The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, such as two individuals walking by one another on a trail or in a park,” the governor’s office said in a news release.
Outdoor gatherings in private residences are also exempt.
Brown cited the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the state fueled by the delta variant as the motive behind the rule.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed new COVID-19 forecast models Tuesday that showed daily hospitalizations could more than double by mid-September.
By Sept. 20 the U.S. could see hospitalizations as high as 27,000 a day, according to the agency’s models. Currently the seven-day average of COVID-19 related hospitalizations is 12,190, according to the CDC.
The peak seven-day average was 16,492 in January, according to health data.
The low-end of the CDC’s forecast’s models is 7,800 hospitalizations a day.
Health officials stress that a change in behavior, including masking, vaccination and social distancing, will reduce severe illness and hospitalization.
-ABC News’ Brian Hartman