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.
CVS begins offering COVID-19 vaccines to kids age 12-15
CVS will begin administering Pfizer's two-shot COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15 on Thursday, when state health officials said the age group will officially be eligible for the vaccine.
The news comes after the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12 on Monday. This was followed by U.S. health advisors endorsing the use of the vaccine on kids Wednesday.
Now CVS is saying 5,600 of its pharmacies nationwide will begin administering the vaccine to kids in this age group on Thursday. Parental or legal guardian consent is required, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
Pfizer's vaccine is the only vaccine available that has been approved for this age group. For this reason, CVS is encouraging people to schedule an appointment to ensure a vaccine is available. However, walk-ins will also be accepted.
Tippecanoe County rescinds health order after lawmakers override veto of local health authority bill
Tippecanoe County health officials have rescinded the county's health order after the state passed a bill that requires local elected officials to approve any local health orders that are more stringent than the state has in place.
State lawmakers on Monday voted to override the governor's veto of Senate Bill 5.
Following this announcement, the Tippecanoe County Health Department rescinded the county's health order. Still, the health department said it is "strongly" encouraging everyone above the age of 2 to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.
"Until a greater number of people are vaccinated against COVID-19, it is important to continue essential preventive measures, such as face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand washing, avoiding crowds, and staying home when sick," the health department said in a news release.
Local health officials are also encouraging restaurants and bars to continue arranging and maintaining seating so that groups are spaced at least 6 feet apart.
The Tippecanoe County Health Department will continue to monitor local COVID-19 cases and issue recommendations accordingly.
State health officials share update on COVID-19
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver are providing an update Wednesday on the state's response to COVID-19.
The state is warning that at the same time it is seeing a drop in testing it is also seeing an increase in variant cases.
Indiana is still seeing lower numbers of deaths and attributes that to the success of the vaccine, especially among the most vulnerable members of the population. The state is now saying that providers should vaccinate anyone meeting age requirements, even if it means opening a new vial and some doses are wasted.
ISDH emphasized parents will be able to register children 12 and older for the Pfizer vaccine beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 13.
Vaccination rates among age groups in Indiana are as follows:
- Age 80 and older: 76 percent
- Age 70-79: 80 percent
- Age 60-69: 70 percent
- Age 50-59: 53 percent
- Age 40-49: 42 percent
- Age 30-39: 36 percent
- Age 20-29: 30 percent
- Age 16-19: 27 percent
US COVID deaths hit lowest level in 10 months
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have tumbled to an average of around 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months — with the number of lives lost dropping to single digits in well over half the states and hitting zero on some days.
Confirmed infections, meanwhile, have fallen to about 38,000 a day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, they have plummeted 85% from a peak of more than a quarter-million cases per day in early January.
The last time deaths were this low was early July, nearly a year ago. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. topped out in mid-January at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation's history.
The overall U.S. death toll stands at about 583,000.
ISDH daily update
Nearly 29,000 more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That brings Indiana's total to 2,196,206 individuals who are fully vaccinated.
The state is also reporting 852 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths from the virus. To date, Indiana has recorded 731,810 positive cases and 13,028 deaths from the coronavirus.
COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out
Veterinarians nationwide are dealing with a COVID-19 pet boom. They are so backlogged they can't take new patients, even when extending hours and hiring additional staff.
The American Pet Products Association estimates roughly 12.6 million households acquired a new pet last year after the pandemic began. Meanwhile, fewer people have given up their pets, and more people working from home are finding ailments in their animals that might otherwise go untreated.
Many vets have complained of burnout and compassion fatigue. Veterinary schools can't produce graduates quickly enough, with jobs for veterinarians and vet techs projected to grow faster than other occupations for years to come.
Red Cross says virus cases exploding in Asia
The International Federation of the Red Cross says coronavirus cases have exploded in Asia in the past two weeks with over 5.9 million new infections.
It says more people have been diagnosed with the illness in Asia over the past two weeks than in the Americas, Europe, and Africa combined.
The Red Cross warned Wednesday that the surge is pushing hospitals and health systems to the brink of collapse. It said seven out of 10 countries globally that are doubling their infection numbers the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific.
The Red Cross called for regional support with more medical equipment, support for prevention and urgent access to vaccines. It said vaccination campaigns in Asia are hampered by shortages, hesitancy and the costly logistics of reaching many areas.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 32.77 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 582,800 deaths in the U.S.
Worldwide there have been more than 159.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 3.3 million deaths and 95.7 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.