INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Saturday'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 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.
Insurers must now reimburse for at-home COVID tests
Most Americans will be able to get reimbursed for COVID-19 tests that they purchase starting Saturday. But before Americans start sending their insurer the bill, there are a couple of caveats they need to know.
Private insurers will be required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home rapid tests per month per insured person, according to a new Biden administration rule.
People will have the option of buying tests at a store or online, then seeking reimbursement from their health insurance provider. Insurers are being incentivized to work with pharmacies and retailers to develop plans to cover the cost of the tests with no out-of-pocket cost to customers, but those programs will not be immediately widespread.
The Biden administration says the procedures will differ from insurer to insurer, and it is encouraging Americans to save receipts from rapid test purchases for later reimbursement and to reach out to their insurance providers for information.
Critically, the requirement only covers purchases on or after Saturday. Insurers are not expected to retroactively reimburse the cost of tests purchased earlier.
Those with public health insurance through Medicare, or without insurance, will be directed to covidtests.gov to order tests or to community health centers in their area offering free testing.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 64.96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 5:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 849,250 deaths recorded in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 323.71 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 5.52 million deaths and more than 9.59 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.
The Indiana Department of Health reported nearly 16,000 new cases of the coronavirus Friday. Of the 15,926 positive cases reported Friday, 15,896 of them were confirmed Thursday. There were also 97 more deaths reported, bringing the state's total since the pandemic began to 19,491.
The state set a new record for hospitalization. On Thursday, there were 3,519 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals around the state. It's the first time since March 2020 that the number has exceeded 3,500.
As of Friday, the state had 9.2% of its ICU beds available. Nearly 38% of all ICU beds in use around the state were occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The state reported there were 4,557 newly fully vaccinated Hoosiers Friday, bringing the total to 3,599,575.
Federal testing website launches next week, 4 tests per home
The White House said the federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Friday's announcement comes as the administration looks to address nationwide shortages, but supplies will be limited to just four free tests per home.
Americans shouldn’t expect a rapid turn-around on the orders, and Americans will have to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.
The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the United States Postal Service, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first class package service in the continental United States.
Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US large businesses
The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job.
At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.
The court’s orders Thursday during a spike in coronavirus cases was a mixed bag for the administration’s efforts to boost the vaccination rate among Americans.
The court's conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people would have been affected.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.
In dissent, the court's three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgments for health experts. “Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies," Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.
The vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all health care workers in the country.
RELATED: Fact-checking Supreme Court justices' claims about flu deaths and kids with COVID-19 in ‘serious condition’
Vincennes goes to remote learning after MLK weekend
Vincennes University announced remote learning plans Friday to take effect following MLK weekend.
"In response to changes in COVID metrics and trends for the Vincennes campus." the university announced, "there will be a temporary pause in face-to-face instruction for the four days following the extended Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday Weekend (January 18, 19, 20, and 21). All other sites will continue instruction as usual. Internships, clinicals, and related off-campus activities will not be impacted by this temporary shift in instruction."
Classes are scheduled to resume face-to-face instruction on Monday, Jan. 24. Students will receive instruction from faculty members regarding specific delivery instructions for their courses.
The school cited high COVID-19 presence around campus and in Knox County as the reason for the decision to go remote.
Fishers Health Dept. offering vaccines, tests on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The Fishers Health Department will offer vaccines and testing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The health department hopes that with many schools and businesses closed for the holiday, people will take advantage of this opportunity.
The Fishers Vaccination Clinic, located at 12520 E. 116th Street, will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, for walk-ins and appointments. The clinic will also be open Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments can be made at fishers.in.us/vaccine.
The Fishers Testing Site, located at 4 Municipal Drive, will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for drive-through testing and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for priority testing for students and staff of K-12 Fishers-based schools. Tests can be scheduled at fishers.in.us/testing.
Hours for the ongoing school-based testing are as follows:
- Monday: 7:30-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.
- Tuesday: 7:30-9 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Wednesday: 7:30-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m.
- Thursday: 7:30-9 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Friday: 7:30-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
- Saturday: Noon-2 p.m.