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Indiana coronavirus updates for Friday, Dec. 17, 2021

Latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Friday'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 5 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.

RELATED: Here's everything we know about the COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: LIST: Where have omicron cases been confirmed in the US?

ISDH update

The Indiana State Department of Heath reports 2,843 more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated. The total vaccinated in Indiana is now more than 3.5 million.

CDC endorses schools' coronavirus 'test-to-stay' policies

U.S. health officials are endorsing “test-to-stay” policies that allow close contacts of students infected with the coronavirus to remain in classrooms if they test negative.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to more firmly embrace the approach, already used my many school districts, after research of such policies in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas found COVID-19 infections did not increase when using the approach.

CDC's official guidance for schools has been that when someone in a school tests positive for COVID-19 infection, those who were deemed to be in close contact should stay out of school, in home quarantine, for 10 days.

With the announcement Friday, the CDC is saying both test-to-stay programs and quarantining approaches are both equally good options for schools.

Hundreds of schools have adopted test-to-stay policies, and several states have funded statewide test-to-stay policies to prevent students from spending long stretches away from school.

Previously, the CDC said there is promise in the approach, as long as other measures such as masking for both teachers and students were followed.

CDC has been working with some school districts to evaluate the programs, and the agency released two studies that indicated they worked well.

IU Health reports 'all-time high' number of COVID patients

IU Health is reporting an all-time high number of COVID-19 patients being treated in its hospitals. The hospital system is caring for 518 COVID patients. To put that in perspective, the summer/fall peak was 459 and the previous high from last winter was 517.

Of the current COVID-19 patients, 339 of those are in the ICU. IU health added beds to care for the COVID patients needing ICU-level care.

Last week, IU Health requested assistance from the National Guard for most of its hospitals (except Riley Children’s Hospital). 

The Indiana National Guard is now supporting 13 of IU Health's 16 hospitals and will be deployed to two more next week.

Indiana lawmakers take up vaccine limits amid COVID-19 surge

Some Indiana doctors and health experts warned that a Republican-backed proposal aimed at limiting workplace COVID-19 vaccination requirements would hurt efforts to stem the illness while the state’s hospitals are strained with their highest-ever overall patient counts.

They were heavily outnumbered, however, by dozens of people during a legislative hearing Thursday on the bill who questioned the effectiveness and safety of the COVID vaccines and brought up complaints about government-ordered lockdowns and mask requirements. 

The House committee hearing was held as Republicans aim to quickly advance the proposal once the legislative session starts Jan. 4.

READ MORE: Lawmakers hear testimony on bill that would limit workplace vaccine mandates

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 50.51 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 803,650 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 272.96 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 5.33 million deaths and more than 8.56 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide.

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.

RELATED: WalletHub study says Hoosier State is 'least safe' state in U.S. for COVID-19

Court rejects challenge of Ohio's vaccination incentive lottery

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that challenged the state's first vaccination incentive lottery as unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by Robert Gargasz, an northeastern Ohio attorney representing individuals critical of Gov. Mike DeWine's early efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gargasz argued that last spring's Vax-a-Million lottery was impermissible because it spent public funds without legislative approval. The lawsuit also called the incentive discriminatory because only vaccinated people could participate. 

The Supreme Court on Thursday said the group represented by Gargasz, Ohio Stands Up!, didn't have standing to sue in the high court.

Chicago firefighters ordered to comply with vaccine mandate

An arbitrator has ruled that several unions representing Chicago firefighters and other city employees must follow Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. 

The ruling issued Wednesday means the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 and some other unions means that union employees will lose pay if they do not receive the first shot by Dec. 31. They have until Jan. 31 to get the second if they chose a two-dose vaccine. 

The ruling does not apply to members of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, which has been engaged in a bitter battle with the mayor over the mandate. A judge has sent that dispute to arbitration that is scheduled to start Dec. 27.

December schedule for testing, vaccine sites in Marion County

The Marion County Public Health Department announced the December schedule for its COVID-19 vaccine clinics and testing sites. 

The clinics will offer vaccines for people 12 and up, pediatric doses for children 5-11 and booster shots for adults 18 and older who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months prior. Walk-ins are accepted, and appointments can be made at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.

Note: all sites will be closed Dec. 23-25, and Dec. 31.

  • Indianapolis Public Library Martindale-Brightwood Branch2435 N. Sherman Dr. (Ages 12 and up only)
    • Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Indianapolis Public Library College Avenue Branch, 4180 N. College Ave. (Ages 12 and up only)
    • Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •  Northeast District Health Office6042 E. 21st St.
    • Mondays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 18 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
  • Eagledale Plaza Health Office, 2802 Lafayette Road, Suite 13
    • Tuesdays 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Northwest District Health Office6940 N. Michigan Road
    • Thursdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • South District Health Office7551 S. Shelby St.
    • Mondays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
  • ACTION Health Center, 2868 N. Pennsylvania St. (Pfizer only)
    • Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.


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