INDIANAPOLIS — Tuesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting 3,191 new coronavirus cases for a total of 570,477 confirmed cases.
The state also recorded 88 additional deaths from COVID-19. A total of 8,731 have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Trump administration asks states to vaccinate people 65 and older
The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 and older and to others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, officials said Tuesday.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that “the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused.”
As a result, he said, the Trump administration is now asking states to vaccinate people age 65 and over and those under 65 with underlying health conditions that put them at high risk. He said the vaccine production is such that the second dose of the two-shot vaccine can be released without jeopardizing immunization for those who got the first shot.
“We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production," Azar told ABC's “Good Morning America.” "So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers.”
Each state has its own plan for who should be vaccinated, based on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommendations give first priority to health care workers and nursing home residents.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 22.61 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 376,000 deaths in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 90.9 million confirmed cases with more than 1.94 million deaths and 50.3 million recoveries.
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.
Some IPS students return to in-person learning next week
IPS announced Monday students in Pre-K through third grade will return to in-person learning full-time starting Tuesday, Jan. 19. Students in higher grades will remain on a full e-learning schedule next week.
The district is off Monday, Jan. 18 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Starting Monday, Jan. 25, students in Pre-K through sixth grade, except for sixth-graders on a middle school schedule, will return to a full in-person schedule at school. Those sixth-graders on a middle school schedule, along with students in grades 7-12, will return to in-person learning, but on a hybrid schedule.
Click here to learn more about the IPS schedule plan.
New virus strain hits Indiana
The Indiana State Department of Health announced Monday a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Indiana. It's the same variant as the strain identified in the United Kingdom last fall.
The strain was identified through ISDH and CDC testing labs. It's not believed to cause more severe symptoms, but it is more easily spread.
"It's common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19," said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. "Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it's more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible."
US ramps up vaccinations to get doses to more Americans
The U.S. is entering the second month of the biggest vaccination effort in history with a major expansion of the campaign, opening football stadiums, major league ballparks, fairgrounds and convention centers to inoculate a larger and more diverse pool of people.
After a frustratingly slow rollout involving primarily health care workers and nursing home residents, states are moving on to the next phase before the first one is complete, making shots available to such groups as senior citizens, teachers, bus drivers, police officers, firefighters and people with underlying medical conditions.
Across the U.S., where the outbreak has entered its most lethal phase yet and the death toll has climbed to about 375,000, politicians and public health officials have complained over the past several days that too many shots were sitting unused on the shelves because of overly rigid adherence to the guidelines that put health are workers and nursing home residents at the front of the line.
As of Monday morning, about 6.7 million Americans had received their first shot of the vaccine, or just 2% of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts say as much as 85% of the population will have to be inoculated to achieve "herd immunity" and vanquish the outbreak.
Many states are responding by throwing open the line to others and ramping up the pace of vaccinations, in some cases offering them 24-7.