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Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Wednesday, Dec. 16.

INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic:

Governor update on response

Gov. Eric Holcomb and state leaders provided a COVID-19 update as vaccinations are now underway.

The state has 26 counties in red and no counties are in yellow or blue.

While the COVID-19 vaccine is now being distributed in the state, the Indiana State Department of Health reports it will be months before the general public is able to receive the vaccine.

Around 3,200 Hoosiers are hospitalized with COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms. The state is worried about a surge on top of the surge with the holidays and possible gatherings. 

The state recommends celebrating virtually with anyone that is outside your household. 

ISDH daily update

The Indiana State Department of Health says Indiana has 6,283 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 125 additional deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has seen 440,850 total positive cases and 6,781 total deaths.

It's the second consecutive day Indiana has reported more deaths in the triple digits. An additional 320 deaths are considered "probable," meaning doctors believe COVID-19 contributed to them, but the patient did not have a positive COVID-19 test result on file.

The state has only 11.2 percent of its ICU beds available, with about 40 percent of ICU beds currently in use by coronavirus patients. Hospitalizations remain high, with 3,192 Hoosiers with COVID-19 in the hospital for treatment.

IU Health receives vaccine shipment

IU Health received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines this morning and will begin administering them at Methodist Hospital this afternoon.

Over the next five days, IU Health is expected to vaccinate 1,900 frontline health care workers.

Three weeks after getting the first round, frontline health care workers fighting against COVID will get the second round of the vaccine.

Negotiators near agreement on second stimulus check

Top congressional leaders appear closer to an agreement on a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package, hoping to seal an agreement as early as Wednesday that would extend aid to individuals and businesses and help ship coronavirus vaccines to millions.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a coauthor of a $908 billion bipartisan package, said leadership negotiators are closing in on an agreement that would extend direct payments of $500-$600 to most Americans but would deny Democratic negotiators long-sought aid to state and local governments. Manchin credited his bipartisan group with facilitating the breakthrough.

“I think they’re basically now putting it all together," Manchin said on CNN. “We were able to break the gridlock.”

Added a Senate leadership aide: “Today is likely the day they reach an agreement.” The aide requested anonymity to characterize the rapidly moving talks. Other aides following the talks offered more cautious assessments. The emerging package is serving as a magnet for add-ons and the two sides continue to swap offers.

It is also apparent that another temporary spending bill will be needed to prevent a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. That is likely to pass by voice votes before Friday but House lawmakers will have to be summoned to Washington to vote on the emerging package, which would combine about $900 billion in COVID-19 relief with a $1.4 trillion government wide funding bill and a host of other remaining congressional business.

IU Health to begin giving vaccinations Wednesday

Doses for the first vaccine for COVID-19 are expected to be administered Wednesday in central Indiana.

Over the next five days, IU Health is expected to vaccinate 1,900 frontline health care workers.

Three weeks after getting the first round, frontline health care workers fighting against COVID will get the second round of the vaccine.

RELATED: Health care workers on front lines of COVID-19 fight get vaccine

The first doses, developed by Pfizer Inc./BioNTech, in the state were administered Monday to a physician, nurse, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, patient care tech and environmental services tech at Parkview Health in Fort Wayne.

The Indiana State Department of Health says that by the end of the week, more than 50 Indiana hospitals and clinics are expected have received a total of 55,575 vaccine doses. According to the Associated Press, it's part of the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 16.72 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 303,000 deaths in the United States. Early Wednesday morning, Johns Hopkins University did not have updated data for recoveries in the U.S. On Monday, that number was approximately 6.3 million.

Worldwide, there have been more than 73.51 million confirmed cases with more than 1.63 million deaths and 41.64 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.

FDA allows use of over-the-counter home test for COVID-19

The first home test for COVID-19 that doesn't require a prescription will soon be on U.S. store shelves.

U.S. officials Tuesday authorized the rapid coronavirus test which can be done entirely at home. The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents another important — though incremental — step in U.S. efforts to expand testing options.

The agency's action allows the test to be sold in places like drugstores "where a patient can buy it, swab their nose, run the test and find out their results in as little as 20 minutes," said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, in a statement.

RELATED: Walgreens and CVS prepare to administer vaccines in long-term care facilities

RELATED: CDC to use text message tool to track COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Regulators granted emergency use for a similar test last month, but that one requires a doctor's prescription.

Initial supplies of the over-the-counter test will be limited. Australian manufacturer Ellume said it expects to produce 3 million tests next month before ramping up production over the first half of 2021.

A company spokesperson said the test will be priced around $30 and be available at pharmacies and online. The test connects to a digital app to help users interpret the results.

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