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 select groups 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.
Indiana reaches 2M vaccinated but new shots rate sluggish
Indiana's rate of COVID-19 vaccination shots has remained sluggish in recent weeks while coronavirus-related hospitalizations have slowly climbed to their highest number since February.
State health department statistics updated Wednesday show that about 2 million people have been fully vaccinated in Indiana, or about 37% of those ages 16 and older. Indiana's vaccination rate has remained at about 40,000 people a day over the past three weeks. That is down from the state's peak of more than 50,000 a day in early April.
Health officials have said they are worried about increased risk from more contagious coronavirus variants at a time when so many people aren't immunized.
CVS begins offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccines
Walk-in and same-day COVID-19 vaccinations are now available at CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide, including Indiana.
CVS Health is now accepting walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations — with no appointment necessary — at CVS Pharmacy locations across the country, including more than 300 stores across Indiana. Same-day scheduling, including appointments as soon as one hour from the time of scheduling, is also available at CVS.com.
As of May 5, CVS Health is vaccinating in more than 8,300 stores across 49 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., and has surpassed 17 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered.
Federal judge overturns CDC's national eviction moratorium
A federal judge has vacated a nationwide eviction moratorium that had been put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help tenants who have fallen behind on rent during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Wednesday's ruling, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said the CDC did not have the authority to issue a broad moratorium on evictions across all rental properties.
The ban, initially put in place last year by the Trump administration, provides protection for renters out of concern that having families lose their homes and move into shelters or share crowded conditions with relatives or friends during the pandemic would further spread the highly contagious virus.
In February, President Joe Biden extended a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30.
It's not yet clear whether Wednesday's ruling will have an immediate widespread impact.
Marion County relaxes restrictions to allow 50% capacity outdoors
Outdoor venues in Marion County will be able to host events at 50 percent capacity under an updated health order announced Wednesday.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine gave an update on coronavirus response in the county on Wednesday.
During the update, Dr. Caine announced relaxed restrictions for outdoor events including sports venues and raceway events.
Outdoor venues are now allowed to increase capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent. Indoor capacity will remain at 25 percent.
Caine said the decision to increase capacity was based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's unclear if this increase in venue capacity will lead to the upcoming Indianapolis 500 also increasing capacity. The event is currently planning on running at about 40 percent capacity, the equivalent of about 135,000 fans.
Caine is hopeful that we'll see a "significant" reduction of restrictions this summer.
'Substantial' increase in virus cases among Marion County high schoolers after spring break
More high school students are testing positive for COVID-19 after spring break, according to Marion County public health officials.
Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine on Wednesday said health officials are seeing a "substantial" number of new coronavirus cases among high school students.
"We're monitoring and watching that very carefully," Caine said.
Caine attributed the increase in cases to students going on trips during spring break and because a lower percentage of people in this age group are fully vaccinated.
On the flip side, Caine said they've seen a "tremendous reduction" in coronavirus cases among the older population, attributing this decrease to a high vaccination rate.
In Marion County, 73 percent of people between the ages of 70 and 74 are vaccinated. This age group has the highest vaccination rate in the county. Following closely behind are people between the ages of 75 and 79 with a 68 percent vaccination rate.
Caine said the younger the age group, the lower the vaccination rate. She is urging young people to get a shot in the arm to help reduce coronavirus cases in the county.
More than 2 million people have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Indiana. The state recorded 36,724 more on Tuesday, which brings the total to 2,006,049.
There were also 1,160 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths reported. The state's death toll now stands at 12,960.
Canada authorizes Pfizer vaccine for age 12 and older
Canada's health regulator has authorized Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and older.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, on Wednesday confirmed the decision for the ages to 12 to 15 and said it will help children return to a normal life.
The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone 16 or older.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also expected to authorize Pfizer's vaccine for younger teens by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year.
Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4
President Joe Biden has set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70% of American adults by July Fourth.
He's focusing on easing access to shots as his administration tackles the vexing problem of winning over the doubters and those who are reluctant get inoculated.
Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their vaccine doses unordered. Biden is calling for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.
Biden's goal equates to delivering at least the first shot to 181 million adults and fully vaccinating 160 million by Independence Day.
US parents excited over prospect of virus shots for children
Many parents and educators are excited over the news that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine by next week for youngsters ages 12 to 15.
Officials are hoping that extending vaccinations to children will drive down the nation’s caseload even further and allow schools to reopen with minimal disruption this fall. It could also reassure parents and teachers alike.
While children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus, they can still get sick and spread it to others, too.
Iraq pushes vaccine rollout amid widespread apathy, distrust
It has taken a populist Shiite cleric's public endorsement of vaccinations — and images of him getting the shot — to turn Iraq's faltering vaccine rollout around.
Hundreds of his followers are now heading to clinics to follow his example, underscoring the power of sectarian loyalties in Iraq and deep mistrust of the state. Iraq has grappled with a severe second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
New case numbers spiked to over 8,000 per day last month, the highest they have ever been. The surge was driven largely by public apathy toward the virus. Many routinely flout virus-related restrictions.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 32.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 4:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 578,000 deaths in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 154.3 million confirmed cases with more than 3.2 million deaths and 90.9 million recoveries.
The actual number of people infected by the virus around the world is believed to be much higher — perhaps 10 times higher in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — given testing limitations and the many mild cases that have gone unreported or unrecognized.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.