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Indiana coronavirus updates for Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Sunday'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.

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Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 70.49 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 6 a.m. Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 865,960 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 349.32 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 5.55 million deaths and more than 9.79 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.

NFL ends daily COVID-19 testing for all players

The NFL is curtailing daily testing of all players, vaccinated or unvaccinated, for COVID-19. In a memo sent to the 32 clubs and obtained by The Associated Press, the league said Friday that medical experts from the NFL and the players’ union agreed to the change. 

Those doctors have seen enough evidence of a decrease in positive tests in the last month to feel comfortable with dropping daily tests. Last month, weekly testing for vaccinated players and personnel was stopped, but anyone who reported symptoms of COVID-19 or was part of targeted surveillance still was subjected to testing.

RELATED: NFL ends daily COVID-19 testing for all players, vaccinated and unvaccinated

New Zealand adds new COVID restrictions as omicron spreads

New Zealanders are set to face new COVID-19 restrictions after nine cases of the omicron variant were detected in a single-family that flew to Auckland for a wedding earlier this month. The so-called “red setting” of the country’s pandemic response includes heightened measures such as required mask-wearing and limits on gatherings, and will go into effect on Monday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday that “red is not lockdown,” noting that businesses can remain open and people can still visit family and friends and move freely around the country. 

New Zealand had been among the few remaining countries to have avoided any outbreaks of the omicron variant.

China's success taming virus could make exit strategy harder

The sweeping “zero-tolerance” policies that China has employed to protect its people and economy from COVID-19 may, paradoxically, make it harder for the country to exit the pandemic. Most experts say the coronavirus isn’t going away and believe it could eventually become, like the flu, a persistent but generally manageable threat if enough people gain immunity through infections and vaccines. 

But China's uncompromising approach means most of its people have never been exposed to the virus. At the same time, the effectiveness of its vaccines against omicron has been called into question.

RELATED: Beijing district orders mass virus testing ahead of Olympics

Biden administration to give away 400 million N95 masks starting this 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 this 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 Americans 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.

RELATED: CDC urges 'up to date' COVID shots; no change to 'fully vaccinated' definition

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.

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.