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Indiana coronavirus updates for Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday, Feb. 23.

INDIANAPOLIS — Tuesday'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 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines

Walmart hosting COVID-19 community vaccine event in Indianapolis 

Walmart is working to get COVID-19 vaccine to locations that prioritize access for those deemed most vulnerable, as well as operational capabilities. The retailer will begin administering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines with a clinic inside the Indianapolis Urban League at 777 Indiana Ave. 

The clinic will begin vaccinations on Thursday, Feb. 25 for anyone eligible under current Indiana guidelines. Those eligible include: health care workers, first responders and people 60 years and older.

Walmart factored in demographic information, local health needs, staffing and medically underserved data to identify initial locations where the company thinks it can make the greatest impact in increasing vaccine access.

ISDH update

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 716 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 44 additional deaths from the virus. That brings Indiana to a total of 657,037 positive cases and 12,025 confirmed deaths.

The state reported 21,041 more tests administered Tuesday. Overall, the state has administered 7,815,751 tests to 3,088,729 individuals.

The seven-day positivity rate from Feb. 10 to Feb. 16 was 4.1 percent for all tests and 10.9 percent for unique individuals.

On Monday, there were 873 COVID patients in Indiana hospitals — the lowest number since Sept. 24, 2020.

Hoosiers 60 and older eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine

Hoosiers 60 and older can now register to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Indiana State Department of Health expanded the eligibility Tuesday morning. The appointments will be available over the next four to six weeks.

ISDH reports this expansion of eligibility makes the vaccine available to an additional 432,000 Hoosiers. In the first day, nearly 91,000 Hoosiers ages 60-64 had already registered.

To date, 905,236 Hoosiers have received a first dose of vaccine, and 459,603 are fully vaccinated.

The vaccine is available at no cost, and appointments can be made by clicking here. Hoosiers who do not have access to a computer or cell phone or who need assistance with registration can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for assistance. A caregiver or loved one can make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior. 

The vaccine requires two doses, and the appointment for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.

To find a vaccination site in the county where you live, click here.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 28.19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. 

Worldwide, there have been more than 111.74 million confirmed cases with more than 2.47 million deaths and 63.03 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.

President Biden pays tribute to over 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19

With sunset remarks and a national moment of silence, President Joe Biden called on all Americans to remember the over 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 and to remain vigilant against the virus.

"The people we lost were extraordinary," Biden said. "They span generations -- born in America, immigrated to America...But just like that, so many of them took their final breath alone in America."

"I ask all Americans to remember -- remember those who were lost and those who were left behind," the president said. "But as we remember, as we all remember, I also asked us to act, to remain vigilant."

Gov. Holcomb directs flags to half-staff

Gov. Eric Holcomb is directing flags across the state to be flown at half-staff in memory of the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.

Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday, Feb. 26 as per President Joe Biden's proclamation.

Rep. Banks tweets for end to mask mandates by next year

An Indiana congressman is taking aim at mask mandates as one of the nation's top infectious disease experts suggested they could last into 2022.

A tweet from CNN Sunday reported comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci about Americans wearing masks into next year, "even as the US may reach 'a significant degree of normalcy' by year's end."

"Nope," Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) tweeted in response

About five hours later, Banks tweeted, "I'm beginning to think Democrats support lifelong mask mandates."

He followed that tweet with a message for candidates running for Congress in 2022. 

"End mask mandates," he wrote. "Reopen every school and get kids back in the classroom full time."

WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne reached out to Banks' office for clarification on the tweets, asking if the congressman meant he didn't think Americans would have to wear masks as long as Fauci suggested, or if he disagreed with wearing masks in general.

An email reply from a spokesperson for Banks said the congressman said Republicans running in 2022 should campaign against mask mandates, noting that by that point, "it's almost certain that every American will have had an opportunity to be vaccinated-which FYI is what the science says is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID."

Monday evening, Banks tweeted "Thank you @meijer" in response to a story about the grocery retailer offering COVID-19 vaccinations in its Indiana stores.