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Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest news on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Indiana.

Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 12 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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US to extend travel restrictions at Canada, Mexico borders through Aug. 21

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce that restrictions for non-essential travel between the U.S. borders in Mexico and Canada will remain in effect through Aug. 21, according to documents to be published in the Federal Register.

The announcement comes several days after Canada announced it will allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.

The U.S. Homeland Security announcement claims that it will extend the travel restrictions at land ports and ferry services until 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 21, 2021, "unless amended or rescinded prior to that time."

Travel restrictions were first put into place in March of 2020 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to help stop the spread. The restrictions have been expanded ever since.

Currently, the restrictions do not impact travelers who are flying, taking a freight train or by sea. It only applies to "passenger rail, passenger ferry travel, and pleasure boat travel between the United States and Canada," the notice said.

State reports 5K more Hoosiers fully vaccinated, 7 additional deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 5,833 more Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning, bringing the total number of Hoosiers who are fully vaccinated to 2,908,343. 

ISDH reported 731 new positive tests for COVID-19, along with seven new deaths reported between May 26-July 16. As of July 21, 13,536 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19. 

The total number of unique individuals who have tested positive is now 762,837.

IPS announces mask policy for 2021-22 school year

IPS is recommending students and staff wear face masks while indoors, but said vaccinated students and staff members may opt out of wearing a mask by voluntarily providing proof of their vaccination. Staff members, however, are highly recommended to wear a mask when they're around unvaccinated students, including those under the age of 12 and the medically fragile, the district said.

Unvaccinated students must wear face masks under the policy for the upcoming school year. Also, masks are required for all students, staff and drivers on IPS buses, regardless of vaccination status, as part of the federal mandate by the Transportation Security Administration.

Click here to read the full COVID-19 protocol for IPS.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics to be held for veterans in Marion and Fort Wayne

The VA Northern Indiana Health Care System will host two walk-in coronavirus vaccine clinics in the coming weeks. 

The first clinic will be held on Saturday, July 24 and the second will be held Saturday, July 31. The clinics will run from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. both days at the following VA locations:

  • Fort Wayne Campus, 2121 Lake Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46805
  • Marion Campus, 1700 E. 38th St., Marion, IN 46953

During the clinics, all veterans, caregivers and spouses will be able to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Schools confront more polarization with mask rules for fall

School districts across the country have an important decision to make before fall classes begin: Will students be required to wear masks? 

The spread of the delta variant and deep political divisions over the COVID-19 outbreak have complicated such decisions. 

Students and teachers in Wichita, Kansas, public schools can ditch the masks. Detroit public schools will probably require them unless an entire room is vaccinated. In Pittsburgh, masks will likely be required, regardless of vaccination status. And in some states, schools cannot mandate face coverings under any circumstances. 

The issue is even more fraught in areas where infections are soaring. School officials also cite conflicting advice from public health officials.

McConnell urges Americans: 'Get vaccinated' as cases spike

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is imploring unvaccinated Americans to take the COVID-19 shot. He issued a stark and grave warning Tuesday that the U.S. risks a repeat of last year’s caseloads if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus. 

Speaking at the U.S. Capitol, McConnell urged Americans to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” coming from pundits and others against the vaccines. "Get vaccinated,” he said at his weekly press conference. 

A childhood polio survivor, McConnell has been one of the most outspoken members of the Republican Party in urging vaccinations to stop the COVID-19 virus.

WHO leader says virus risk inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

The head of the World Health Organization says the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because zero risk is impossible. 

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tells the International Olympic Committee what matters more is how infections are handled. Tedros wants Tokyo's success to be judged by how "cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted.” 

The number of games-linked COVID-19 cases in Japan this month is now 79. More international athletes have tested positive at home and cannot travel.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 34.17 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 609,500 deaths in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 191.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.1 million deaths. More than 3.9 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.