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Indiana coronavirus updates for Saturday, May 28, 2022

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Saturday, May 28, 2022.

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.

RELATED: Here's everything we know about the COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: Biden administration launches covid.gov site

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 83.96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 8 a.m. ET Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1,004,690 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 528.52 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.28 million deaths and more than 11.38 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.

Investigation: No retaliation against COVID-19 whistleblower

A state investigator’s report says there’s nothing to indicate the Florida Department of Health told an employee to falsify COVID-19 data and she wasn’t fired out of retaliation. 

The report released this month investigated claims made by former department employee Rebekah Jones. Jones received national attention when she raised questions about the state’s COVID-19 dashboard and claimed she was fired for exposing problems. 

The state said she was fired for insubordination after being reprimanded several times. 

An inspector general’s 268-page report found no evidence of wrongdoing or retaliation by the department.

Dominant coronavirus mutant contains ghost of pandemic past

The coronavirus mutant that is now dominant in the United States spreads faster than its omicron predecessors, is adept at escaping immunity and might possibly cause more serious disease. 

The new variant is a member of the omicron family, but it carries a mutation called delta that was a feature of the variant that was dominant in the middle of 2021. This appears to allow the virus to escape immunity from vaccines and prior infection, especially if someone was infected in the huge omicron wave that swept the world late last year and early this year.

The omicron “subvariant” gaining ground in the U.S. — known as BA.2.12.1 and responsible for 58% of U.S. COVID-19 cases last week — isn't the only one affected by the delta mutation. The genetic change is also present in the omicron relatives that together dominate in South Africa, known as BA.4 and BA.5. Those have exactly the same mutation as delta, while BA.2.12.1 has one that's nearly identical.

This genetic change is bad news for people who caught the original omicron and thought that made them unlikely to get COVID-19 again soon. Although most people don't know for sure which variant caused their illness, the original omicron caused a giant wave of cases in late 2021 and early 2022.

Lab data suggests a prior infection with the original omicron is not very protective against reinfection with the new mutants, though the true risk of being reinfected no matter the variant is unique to every person and situation.

In a twist, those sickened by delta previously may have some extra armor to ward off the new mutants. A study released before it was reviewed by other scientists, by researchers at Ohio State University, found that COVID patients in intensive care with delta infections induced antibodies that were better at neutralizing the new mutants than patients who caught the original omicron. 

US making COVID antiviral drug more available at test sites

The White House has announced more steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible across the U.S. as it projects COVID-19 infections will continue to spread over the summer travel season. 

The nation’s first federally backed test-to-treat site is opening Thursday in Rhode Island. The site will provide patients with immediate access to the drug once they test positive. 

More federally supported sites are set to open in the coming weeks in Massachusetts and New York City, both hit by a marked rise in infections. 

Next week, the U.S. will send authorized federal prescribers to several Minnesota-run testing sites, turning them into test-to-treat locations.

RELATED: Administration expands availability of COVID antiviral pill

Long COVID affects more older adults; shots don't prevent it

Research in U.S. veterans provides fresh evidence that long COVID-19 can happen even after breakthrough infections following vaccination. In the study published Wednesday, about 1% who had COVID-19 shots had breakthrough infections. 

And about one-third of that group showed signs of long COVID. A separate government report found that 1 in 4 adults age 65 and up developed at least one symptom of long COVID up to a year after an initial infection. 

That compares with 1 in 5 younger adults. Long COVID involves long-term symptoms that can include fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and blood clots.

Pfizer says 3 COVID shots protect children under 5

Three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots.

The news comes after months of anxious waiting by parents desperate to vaccinate their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, especially as COVID-19 cases once again are rising. The 18 million children under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration has begun evaluating data from rival Moderna, which hopes to begin offering two kid-sized shots by summer. 

Preliminary data suggested the three-dose series is 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, the companies said, but they cautioned the calculation is based on just 10 cases diagnosed among study participants by the end of April. The study rules state that at least 21 cases are needed to formally determine effectiveness, and Pfizer promised an update as soon as more data is available.

COVID-19 vaccine booster available for Hoosiers age 5-11

The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that Hoosiers age 5-11 are now eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine following authorization last week from the FDA and CDC.

The IDOH is advising vaccine providers that they can begin administering boosters of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine to children in the age group whose last dose was administered at least five months ago.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently the only one authorized for children age 5-11.

You can find a vaccine location at ourshot.in.gov or by calling Indiana 211 (866-211-9966). Any site administering pediatric doses can administer a pediatric booster dose. Most sites accept walk-ins.

FDA authorizes at-home test for COVID-19, flu and RSV

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the greenlight to the first non-prescription COVID-19 test that also detects the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 

The test involves taking a nasal swab sample at home and then sending it to Labcorp for testing. Results are then delivered through an online portal, with follow-up from a health care provider if it's a positive or invalid test result, the FDA explained in its announcement

The test can detect multiple respiratory viruses at the same time, including influenza A and B, commonly known as the flu, RSV, along with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

RSV is a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the CDC. While most people recover in a week or two, it can be serious, especially for infants and older adults, the agency explains on its website. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in kids younger than 1.

Labcorp's test kit can be purchased online or in a store without a prescription and is designed for people 2 years and older.

RELATED: FDA authorizes at-home test for COVID, flu and RSV

CDC encourages considering mask use indoors

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States – and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking.

Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions.

Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.

On Saturday, May 28, 2022 nine Indiana counties (Hamilton, Porter, LaPorte, Owen, Lawrence, Jackson, Bartholomew, Jennings and Decatur) were listed on the CDC data map as having "medium" community risk. Surrounding Indiana, the Louisville (medium) and Chicago (high) metro areas are also deemed at risk by the CDC.

White House offering additional 8 free COVID-19 tests to public

The government website for people to request free COVID-19 at-home tests from the U.S. government is now accepting a third round of orders.

The White House announced Tuesday that U.S. households can request an additional eight free at-home tests to be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.

President Joe Biden committed in January to making 1 billion tests available to the public free of charge, including 500 million available through covidtests.gov. But just 350 million of the amount available for ordering online have been shipped to date to addresses across the continental U.S., its territories and overseas military bases, the White House said.

People who have difficulty getting online or need help placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 for assistance.

The third round brings to 16 the total number of free tests available to each U.S. household since the program started earlier this year. Households were eligible to receive four tests during each of two earlier rounds of ordering through the website.

2nd COVID-19 booster shot available to Hoosiers 50 and up

The Indiana Department of Health announced Wednesday that Hoosiers age 50 and older, as well as those 12 and older with weakened immune systems, are now eligible to receive a second mRNA COVID-19 booster shot at least four months after their first booster dose.

The announcement comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for that age group and and certain younger people with severely weakened immune systems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later recommended the extra shot as an option but stopped short of urging that those eligible rush out and get it right away.

The IDOH is advising vaccine providers that they can begin administering second boosters of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to people who qualify.

The CDC also says that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least four months ago may now receive a second booster dose of either mRNA vaccine.

You can find a vaccine location at ourshot.in.gov or by calling Indiana 211 (866-211-9966). Appointments are recommended, but many sites do accept walk-ins.

Marion County COVID-19 vaccination and test clinics continue

The Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) continues to provide free COVID-19 vaccination and testing to anyone interested in receiving these services.

MCPHD is operating one COVID-19 testing site, which is a drive-thru clinic located at 3838 N. Rural St. in Indianapolis.

The clinic's current hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. This clinic offers PCR testing only and no rapid testing. A list of additional test sites registered with the Indiana Department of Health is available at coronavirus.in.gov.

Appointments for COVID-19 testing at the MCPHD location are not required but are available by visiting marionhealth.org/indycovid or calling 317-221-5515.

MCPHD is also offering COVID-19 vaccines at its district health offices, ACTION Health Center, and four other locations in Marion County. Appointments for vaccines are not required but are recommended. 

Please visit ourshot.in.gov or call 2-1-1 to find a vaccination clinic.

Marion County clinic schedule

  • Northeast District Health Office, 6042 E. 21st St.
    Mondays: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
    Tuesdays: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Eagledale Plaza Health Office, 2802 Lafayette Road
    Tuesdays: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Northwest District Health Office, 6940 N. Michigan Road
    Thursdays: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • South District Health Office, 7551 S. Shelby St.
    Mondays: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
    Fridays: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • ACTION Health Center, 2868 N. Pennsylvania St.
    Wednesdays: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Martindale-Brightwood Public Library Branch, 2435 N. Sherman Drive (ages 12-over only)
    Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • College Avenue Public Library Branch, 4180 N. College Ave. (ages 12-over only)
    Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • East 38th Street Public Library Branch, 5420 E. 38th St.  (ages 12-over only)
    Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • IndyGo Carson Transit Center, 201 E. Washington St.  (ages 12-over only)
    Tuesdays: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    Thursdays: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

   

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