Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 5 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.
At-home test hotline open
The hotline to order your free at-home COVID tests from the government is finally up and running.
The hotline is open from 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week and offers assistance in more than 150 languages.
Call 800-232-0233 to order.
As is the case with orders online, people who place orders for at-home tests by phone will need to provide their names and home addresses. No credit card or health insurance is required.
The Indiana Department of Health reports 2,874 more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. The total number of people vaccinated in Indiana is now at 3,620,906.
There were 6,888 booster doses administered Thursday, bringing the total number to 1,622,131.
The state also reported 95 new deaths, which brings the state's death toll to 19,992. There were 17,684 new cases of COVID recorded, though some of those results dated back to Jan. 8. More than 1.52 million Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID since the pandemic began.
Marion County delays jury trials' return amid COVID-19 cases
The resumption of jury trials has been pushed back in Indiana’s most populous county after officials say about 90 court employees tested positive this month for COVID-19.
The Indianapolis Star reports that court officials in Marion County, the home of Indianapolis, announced Thursday that jury trials would resume “with a phased in approach” starting Jan. 31.
Earlier this month, the courts announced that all jury trials would be reset to dates after Jan. 21 amid a statewide surge driven by the fast-spreading COVID-19 omicron variant.
About 90 court staff, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, have now tested positive for the virus since Jan. 3.
Booster shots needed against omicron, CDC studies show
They are the first large U.S. studies to look at vaccine protection against omicron, health officials said.
The papers echo previous research — including studies in Germany, South Africa and the U.K. — indicating available vaccines are less effective against omicron than earlier versions of the coronavirus, but also that boosters significantly improve protection.
Click here to read more on the three studies' findings.
Vincennes University to return to in-person instruction
Vincennes University announced it will resume in-person learning for students on Monday, Jan. 24, as planned, after a temporary switch to remote instruction.
The school cited high COVID-19 presence around campus and in Knox County when it announced it would switch to remote learning for four days from Jan. 18-21.
"University officials will continue monitoring conditions for all campuses and sites in order to maintain the University’s ability to safely fulfill its mission of delivering a high-quality learning environment and educational experience," the school said in a statement.
All campus facilities and support services will continue to operate within their normal hours.
MSD of Pike Township shifts to remote learning Friday
Metropolitan School District of Pike Township students will not be attending classes in person on Friday.
The district posted on Twitter around 5:45 a.m, that students will learn remotely on Jan. 21 due to driver illnesses reported Friday morning.
Live instruction will be provided through Zoom and class assignments can be accessed via Canvas, the district said.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 69.30 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 4:45 a.m. Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 860,200 deaths recorded in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 342.68 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 5.57 million deaths and more than 9.75 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide.
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.
Government at-home test distribution to include Roche brand
If you signed up to get free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests kits from the federal government, you should see them in your mailbox in the next seven to 12 days.
You can't choose the brand that will arrive, but there are several possibilities, including one made by Roche Diagnostics, whose North American headquarters is based in Indianapolis.
The rapid antigen test from Roche uses a nasal swab and provides results in about 20 minutes.
“These tests, they don’t require equipment. Anybody can use them,” said Dr. Jamie Phillips-Deeter at Roche.
And compared to the PCR test, which Phillips-Deeter said is considered the gold standard and the most accurate when it comes to detecting COVID, the new antigen test has a 95% sensitivity rate, according to clinical trials. It can detect all the variants of coronavirus.
Roche said they’re manufacturing tens of millions of their new test kits every month, with the first shipment already in the hands of the federal government.
Eventually, the tests will also be on store shelves.
Government site to order free at-home COVID tests launches
You can now order four at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests from the federal government to be shipped directly to your door.
Wednesday marked the official launch of the Biden administration's initiative to get more tests into the hands of Americans as the highly contagious omicron variant surges across the country.
These tests have been in short supply in recent weeks, with demand driven up by holiday travel and a rising wave of infections and possible contacts with the omicron variant.
A separate link, special.usps.com/testkits, went live Tuesday in a "beta testing phase" of the site ahead of Wednesday's launch, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed.
The federal government is limiting the number of tests any household can order due to projected high demand. Four tests can be shipped per household, not per person.
Biden administration to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week
The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.
The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.
This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump's administration considered and then shelved plans to send masks to all American at their homes. President Joe Biden embraced the initiative after facing mounting criticism this month over the inaccessibility — both in supply and cost — of N95 masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept across the country.
The White House said the masks will be made available at pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
IU women's basketball postpones another game due to COVID-19
The Indiana University women's basketball team postponed another game due to COVID-19. The game against Iowa on Sunday, Jan. 23 in Iowa City will need to be rescheduled.
A future date for the game has not been set. If the game is not able to be rescheduled, it would count as a “no contest” for both teams.
The IU women already postponed the game with Michigan State, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19 at Indiana University. Ticketholders will receive information from the ticket office on next steps.
IMS testing, vaccine clinic extended with new hours
The Indiana Department of Health has extended its COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through Saturday, Feb. 26. The hours of operation have also been revised, which goes into effect immediately.
The clinic, which is held in the INDYCAR parking lot at 4551 W. 16th St. across from Gate 2, offers vaccinations and testing on the following schedule:
- Tuesdays and Thursdays: Noon-8 p.m.
- Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Appointments are strongly recommended, but walk-ins will be accepted if there is availability.
IDOH will contact those who have already scheduled appointments from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and Fridays.
Carmel Symphony Orchestra postpones concerts
Carmel Symphony Orchestra is postponing five upcoming concerts due to concern over the omicron variant of COVID-19.
The postponed concerts include the following:
- Family Fun Concert – Sunday, Jan. 23
- Masterworks 3 with the Harlem String Quartet – Saturday, Feb. 12
- Beethoven Lives Upstairs: A Classical Kids Live! Event – Saturday, Feb. 19
- Pops Concert: Serpentine Fire - the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire – Saturday, Feb. 26
- Side-by-Side Concert with Fishers High School featuring CSO Young Artist Competition winner Abigail Ko – Sunday, March 6.
“Hopefully, the peak of this particular surge will be reached over the next month or so, and by the time we resume our concerts, we’ll be on the down side of Omicron,” said Robert Schlegel III, chairman of the CSO Board of Directors.
The CSO season will resume on March 12. The Family Fun concert from Jan. 23 will be presented on May 14. The other concerts affected by the pause, including Serpentine Fire: the Music of Earth, Wind and Fire, will be booked for the 2022-23 season with dates announced in April.