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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, April 8, 2021

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — 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 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

St. Elmo Steak House releases statement on employee's death

The operator of St. Elmo Steak House issued a statement on Wednesday night saying the restaurant is mourning the loss of a " long-time, valued employee." 

"As a 100+ year old Indianapolis institution, I am proud that St. Elmo Steak House has been my family's business for more than 30 years," Craig Huse, the CEO of Huse Culinary, said. "And like a family, we are mourning the loss of a long-time, valued employee and genuinely great person, who had a huge heart and a glowing smile."

The employee's death was reported as a COVID-19 workplace fatality to the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday. The news followed the popular steak house closing early on Saturday due to 9 employees testing positive for coronavirus.  

RELATED: St. Elmo Steak House employee dies during shutdown due to virus outbreak

Huse said he is collaborating with the employee's family to create a fundraiser on the employee's behalf.

"Their family is our family," Huse said. "Overwhelming support from clients and guests sharing similar situations from their families and workplaces, helps us know that we are not alone."

Huse went on to explain that the safety of their employees and patrons is "our highest priority." 

When the nine employees tested positive, the restaurant voluntarily shut down. Huse said they worked with local health officials to develop a plan to safely reopen, which included a deep cleaning and testing all returning employees for coronavirus. 

Taylor University announces return to regular academic calendar in the fall

Taylor University will return to its regular academic schedule this fall. University officials announced the 2021-2022 academic year will begin as scheduled with in-person classes on Aug. 30 and a full spring break. 

According to a news release from the university, the decision to return to a regular schedule came as a result of coronavirus cases generally declining throughout the region and expanded eligibility for vaccines throughout the state. 

With state-mandated capacity restrictions lessening, prospective student visitors to Taylor are now able to see inside residence halls and eat in campus dining facilities. Chapel seating capacity is also increasing. However, masks are still required in academic buildings, administrative buildings, and chapel. 

The university, located in Upland, Indiana, will continue to follow state and local health officials' coronavirus protocols, according to a news release. 

Rose-Hulman hosting COVID-19 vaccination center for students, staff

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana will be hosting a COVID-19 vaccination center on campus this spring for students and employees. 

School officials anticipate having enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine for every student and employee to be fully vaccinated with the required two doses before the end of the spring quarter, according to a news release.

The first doses of the vaccine will be administered by Office of Health Services staff Wednesday, April 14, through Friday, April 16, or April 19-20. The second doses will be available from May 10-14.

Notre Dame to require COVID-19 vaccine for all students next fall

The University of Notre Dame announced Wednesday all students will be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination beginning with the fall 2021 semester.

University executive officers sent a letter to the campus community Wednesday, saying the requirement is a "new and important addition to our health policies." The school will allow for medical and religious exemptions.

The announcement comes shortly after universities across the state — including Notre Dame — announced on-campus vaccine clinics for students and faculty. Notre Dame's campus vaccination site will open Thursday, April 8.

Nearly quarter of Hoosiers 16 and up fully vaccinated

State health officials say nearly a quarter of Indiana residents age 16 and older are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard showed Wednesday that a total of 1,291,190 Hoosiers — or 23.7% of Indiana’s residents who are at least 16 — have been fully vaccinated. Another 1,827,696 first doses of vaccine have been administered statewide. 

State officials made all state residents age 16 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on March 31. People fully vaccinated have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Rare clots possibly linked to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

The European Union drug regulator said Wednesday that it found a "possible link" between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder but declined to impose any new age restrictions, saying the benefits of the shot still outweigh risks. Its U.K. counterpart, however, said it would offer people under 30 the choice of another product.

The European Medicines Agency described the clots as "very rare" side effects. It said most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccination — but based on the currently available evidence, it was not able to identify specific risk factors. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the United Kingdom, where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine," said Emer Cooke, the agency's executive director.

"The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects," Cooke said.

Variant first found in Britain is now most common in America

A variant of the coronavirus first identified in Britain is now the most common strain of coronavirus circulating in the United States.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, says the strain, formally known as B.1.1.7, is “now the most common lineage circulating in United States.”

The strain has been shown to be more transmissible and infectious among younger Americans, which Walensky says contributed to rising case counts in recent weeks. 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

ISDH Update

The state is reporting 25,108 more people have been fully vaccinated in Indiana. That brings the total fully vaccinated to nearly 1.3 million people.

The state also reported 1,260 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths. The state's death toll since the start of the pandemic is now 12,694.

Marion County health leaders to host free virtual event Wednesday to debunk vaccine myths

The Marion County Public Health Department, along with Eskenazi Health and MDwise, are providing a free virtual discussion about the myths, concerns and truths regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Take the Fight to COVID" will be held Wednesday, April 7 at 7 p.m. ET.

"As health leaders, we're coming together to help members of our community become better informed about the COVID-19 vaccines," said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department. "The more you know, the better prepared you will be to make the right decision for you and your family members about getting the vaccine." 

Click here to sign up for the event, or call 888-475-4499 and enter the webinar ID number "944 0066 1927."

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 30.84 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 556,000 deaths in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 132.44 million confirmed cases with more than 2.87 million deaths and 75.21 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 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.

St. Elmo Steak House reports COVID-19 workplace fatality

Huse Culinary, the operator of St. Elmo Steak House in downtown Indianapolis, reported an employee died while the restaurant was closed due to a coronavirus outbreak among staff. 

Huse Culinary reported a COVID-19 workplace fatality to the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) on Monday. 

An IOSHA spokeswoman said although the workplace death was reported to them on Monday, this doesn't necessarily mean the employee died on Monday.

Additionally, the death didn't occur at the restaurant, according to a statement made by IOSHA on Tuesday. 

“Please note, the fatality reported yesterday by Huse Culinary (St. Elmos) did not occur at the actual workplace location. A possible workplace fatality that is related to an illness, such as COVID-19, many times does not happen at the establishment itself, but at another location such as a medical provider or the home of the deceased," the IOSHA's statement said.

According to the spokeswoman, IOSHA is following up with the restaurant about the fatality.

8-week mass vaccine clinic in Gary begins Wednesday

The White House is partnering with the State of Indiana to build a new vaccination center in Gary at the former Roosevelt High School. The site will be capable of administering approximately 3,000 shots a day and will operate seven days a week for eight weeks. 

The site will administer 2,000 vaccine doses per day at the Roosevelt site, and another 1,000 doses per day will be allocated to mobile units that will host clinics in underserved communities throughout northern Indiana.

The site is expected to be up and running by Wednesday, April 7 and offer first doses of the Pfizer vaccine during its first three weeks of operation. Hoosiers vaccinated during that timeframe will be guaranteed a second dose during the fourth, fifth, and sixth weeks of the clinic. 

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered during the final two weeks of the operation.

More than 100,000 Hoosiers are expected to be vaccinated during the eight-week clinic, which will focus on high-risk and underserved citizens in northwestern Indiana to provide easy access to appointments.

Butler offering vaccine to students beginning Wednesday

Butler University is making the COVID-19 vaccine available to all students, including international students or those from out of state. If there is enough vaccine leftover, faculty and staff will be able to get the shot of campus.

The first round of shots will happen April 7-9 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Students who participate will then receive the second dose May 4-6 in the Health and Recreation Complex on campus. That date is just after finals week, but prior to commencement ceremonies and students leaving campus.

"We appreciate the Indiana Department of Health for partnering with us to make this vaccine available," said Brent Rockwood, Butler's vice president and chief of staff. "This will have a tremendous impact on our efforts to establish herd immunity on our campus, and will allow us to more safely restore a full campus experience in the fall."

Butler said students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will help administer the vaccines.

Students will not be required to get vaccinated at the clinic, but Rockwood said vaccinations might be required for all students by the start of the fall 2021 semester.