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Indiana coronavirus updates for Monday, Aug. 29, 2022

Monday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Aug. 29, 2022.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Monday'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 all Hoosiers through the Indiana 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

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Government to pause free COVID test orders Friday

If you're looking to stock up on at-home COVID-19 tests, it may be your last chance to order a batch free of charge from the government.

President Joe Biden committed in January to making 1 billion tests available to Americans, including through covidtests.gov. 

Initially, each U.S. household could make only one order of the rapid antigen tests. The Biden administration later announced a second and then third round of orders were available, totaling up to 16 tests per household.

However, that program is coming to an end — at least for now. 

"Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests," an alert on the website said starting Friday. 

Free COVID-19 testing is also available through community testing sites and insurance reimbursement.

CDC map shows 53 Indiana counties at 'high risk' of spreading COVID-19

On Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, 53 Indiana counties were classified in the high-risk category for spreading COVID-19.

The central Indiana counties listed on the CDC data map as having a "high" community risk of spreading COVID-19 include Bartholomew, Cass, Delaware, Grant, Hancock, Henry, Howard, Johnson, Miami and Shelby.

There were also 29 more Indiana counties listed as "medium" risks, including Marion and Hendricks.

Adams, Boone, Carroll, Hamilton, Jay, Newton, Porter, Tippecanoe, Union and Wells are the only counties listed as "low" risks for spreading COVID-19 as of Monday morning.

Over the past seven days, Indiana has recorded 15,018 new cases and 66 deaths. The 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 is 128.71.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 94.19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 5:15 a.m. ET Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1.04 million deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 601 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.48 million deaths and more than 12.12 billion vaccine doses administered.

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.

Tweaked COVID boosters close, but how much will they help?

COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to better match today’s omicron threat are expected to roll out in a few weeks but how much will they help? Also up in the air is who should get one -- and how soon. 

Pfizer and rival Moderna both asked U.S. regulators last week to authorize modified versions of their vaccine to use as fall boosters. The shot is half the original recipe and half protection against the latest two versions of omicron. 

The Food and Drug Administration ordered that recipe at the end of June, and now has to decide if this combination is ready.

Moderna plans to sue Pfizer for patent infringement over COVID-19 vaccine technology

Moderna is suing fellow vaccine-makers Pfizer and BioNtech over claims that their COVID-19 vaccine infringes on patents Moderna filed before the pandemic, the company said in a statement. 

The lawsuit, which has not been filed in the U.S. as of Friday morning, contends that Pfizer and BioNtech infringed on several patents, filed by Moderna between 2010 and 2016, when the two companies worked together to make a COVID-19 vaccine as the pandemic spread in 2020. 

The patents are related to "foundational mRNA technology" developed by Moderna, the company said. 

Moderna said that technology was critical in developing their own vaccine, sold under the name Spikevax. The company accuses the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, called Comirnaty, of copying that technology. 

RELATED: Moderna plans to sue Pfizer for patent infringement over COVID-19 vaccine technology

CDC drops quarantine, distancing recommendations for COVID-19

The nation's top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

The changes, which come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic, are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said the CDC's Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines.

Many places around the country long ago abandoned social distancing and other once-common precautions, but some of the changes could be particularly important for schools, which resume classes this month in many parts of the country.

Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the end of the recommendation that schools do routine daily testing, although that practice can be reinstated in certain situations during a surge in infections, officials said.

The CDC also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test — instead of quarantining at home — to keep attending school. With no quarantine recommendation anymore, the testing option disappeared, too.

Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.

What to know about BA.5, BA.4 variant symptoms

As Americans ramp up their summer travels without their masks, two COVID-19 subvariants are causing a surge in cases. 

BA.5, which accounts for 65% of cases, and BA.4, which is 16% of cases, are omicron's smarter cousins. The two subvariants are evading antibodies and even vaccine protections, as they are one of the most contagious versions of the virus yet.

"It knows how to trick our immune system," said TEGNA's medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli.

Since the subvariants derived from the original omicron variant, symptoms fall under the same umbrella. However, symptoms still vary depending on vaccination status, age, prior infection, medication and other factors, said Kohli.

Data collected from the Zoe app in the UK show most symptoms mimic the common cold, with sore throats and runny noses. Kohli said a significant change in symptoms for the subvariants are heightened amounts of sneezing, something not seen in earlier forms of the COVID-19 variant. 

The subvariants responsible for the latest surge pose a different threat as it also has higher rates of reinfection.

Parents can schedule vaccine appointments for young children

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced that the public can now schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children through age 5 by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov.

Appointments are available for individuals seeking the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years and the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years on the state's scheduling platform. 

IDOH has updated its map at www.ourshot.in.gov to show sites that offer vaccines for the youngest age group.

Appointments are recommended due to vaccine and provider availability. Individuals also can call 211 for assistance or contact their child’s healthcare provider to determine if they are offering vaccines.

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information.

Riley Children's Health offering COVID-19 vaccines

Riley Children's Health has the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.

Appointments are required and can be made by calling 211.

Riley Physicians at IU Health West: 

  • Mondays and Thursdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 1111 Ronald Reagan Pkwy, Avon

Riley Physicians at IU Health North:

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 11700 N. Meridian Street, Carmel

Riley Physicians at East Washington

  • Tuesdays and Fridays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 9650 Washington St #245, Indianapolis

Riley Physicians at Methodist Medical Plaza South

  • Wednesdays and Thursdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 8820 S Meridian St Suite 125, Indianapolis

Riley Physicians at Georgetown

  • Tuesdays and Fridays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 4880 Century Plaza Rd Suite 250, Indianapolis

MCPHD offering COVID vaccine for kids 6 months to 4 years old

The Marion County Public Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 6 months to 4 years old at its district health offices and ACTION Health Center.

To see the schedule for each location, click here. Vaccinations are by appointment only. Call the specific location to make an appointment, or call MCPHD's Immunization Program at 317-221-2122.

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