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Indiana coronavirus updates for Thursday, March 4, 2021

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, March 4.

INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday'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 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

Mayor Hogsett, Dr. Caine receive COVID-19 vaccine Thursday afternoon

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine received the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday.

Hogsett and Caine were joined by Paul Babcock, President and CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, and Vop Osili, President of Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council, in the public vaccination as a show of confidence in the vaccine and to promote the need for as many people to get vaccinated as possible.

ISDH update

The state is reporting 962 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 664,446 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

There were also 32 additional deaths bringing the state's death toll to 12,231.

US jobless claims tick up to 745,000 as layoffs remain high

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits edged higher last week to 745,000, a sign that many employers continue to cut jobs despite a drop in confirmed viral infections and evidence that the overall economy is improving.

Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose by 9,000 from the previous week. Though the pace of layoffs has eased since the year began, they remain high by historical standards. Before the virus flattened the U.S. economy a year ago, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any week, even during the Great Recession.

All told, 4.3 million Americans are receiving traditional state unemployment benefits. Counting supplemental federal unemployment programs that were established to soften the economic damage from the virus, an estimated 18 million people are collecting some form of jobless aid.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 28.76 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. ET Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 518,000 deaths in the U.S. 

Worldwide, there have been more than 115.19 million confirmed cases with more than 2.56 million deaths and 65.15 million recoveries.

RELATED: See where confirmed Indiana coronavirus cases are with this interactive map

RELATED: VERIFY: Are Indiana’s new COVID-19 case numbers inflated with multiple positive tests for the same person?

The real 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.

Marion County leaders hosting webinar Thursday in Spanish to dispel COVID-19 myths

The City of Indianapolis and Marion County Public Health Department are teaming up to launch the COVID Community Ambassador program to encourage people to dispel myths and challenge stigmas. 

Marion County residents are encouraged to sign up to receive email updates through an online portal. Participants will receive regular email updates on new vaccine sites, qualification changes and infographics to be shared on social media.

"Communication from trusted leaders at all levels is critical to ensuring our residents of all backgrounds feel safe and confident in receiving a potentially life-saving vaccine," Hogsett said in a press release. "This effort allows the power of connections to be at the forefront of disseminating critical vaccine information. Neighbor to neighbor, we can dispel myths and remove barriers to get our city on a healthier path."

The City of Indianapolis and Marion County Public Health Department are hosting a webinar in Spanish on Thursday, March 4 at 6 p.m. ET to kick off the community ambassador program. An English version of the webinar took place Wednesday, March 3.

To become a community ambassador, go to indy.gov/covid.

CDC director encourages mask wearing, following federal guidelines as next 2 months are 'pivotal'

The Biden administration is warning against virus fatigue and encouraging Americans to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing despite many states easing restrictions.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the nation is "at a critical nexus in the pandemic," and the next two months are “pivotal” in determining the remaining course of the pandemic.

While vaccinations are set to rapidly ramp up, Walensky warned deaths and new infections have plateaued at a “troubling” level after falling off their January highs.

"Fatigue is winning, and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored," Walensky said.

Walensky says the CDC has been clear in opposing states' moves to lift restrictions and encouraged Americans to follow federal guidelines.

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