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Indiana coronavirus updates for Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Tuesday'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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FDA clears COVID booster shot for healthy kids ages 5 to 11

U.S. regulators on Tuesday authorized a COVID-19 booster shot for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds, hoping an extra vaccine dose will enhance their protection as infections once again creep upward.

Everyone 12 and older could already get one booster dose for the best protection against the newest coronavirus variants — and some people, including those 50 and older, can choose a second booster.

The Food and Drug Administration’s authorization now opens a third shot to elementary-age kids, too — at least five months after their last dose.

There is one more hurdle: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide whether to formally recommend the booster for this age group. The CDC’s scientific advisers are scheduled to meet on Thursday.

Pfizer’s shot is the only COVID-19 vaccine available for children of any age in the U.S. Those ages 5 to 11 receive one-third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older.

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.

CDC confirms 1 million US deaths

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has hit 1 million, less than two and a half years into the outbreak. The figure is based on data kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The number of deceased is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days. It is roughly equal to the number of Americans who died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s as if the populations of Boston and Pittsburgh were wiped out. 

Some of those left behind say they cannot return to normal. They replay their loved ones’ voicemail messages or watch old videos to see them dance. When other people say they are done with the virus, they bristle with anger or ache in silence.

“'Normal.' I hate that word,” said Julie Wallace, 55, of Elyria, Ohio, who lost her husband to COVID-19 in 2020. “All of us never get to go back to normal.” 

Three out of every four deaths were people 65 and older. More men died than women. White people made up most of the deaths overall. But Black, Hispanic and Native American people have been roughly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as their white counterparts.

RELATED: 1 million COVID deaths in US put into perspective

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 82.61 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 4:45 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 999,842 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 522.07 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.26 million deaths and more than 11.41 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.

Kim blasts pandemic response as North Korean outbreak surges

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has blasted officials over slow medicine deliveries and ordered his military to respond to the largely undiagnosed COVID-19 crisis that has left 1.2 million people ill with fever and 50 dead in a matter of days. 

More than 560,000 people are in quarantine due to the fever. Eight more deaths and nearly 393,000 newly detected fevers were reported Monday. It's not known how many were COVID-19 since North Korea likely lacks enough test kits. 

It’s also not clear if North Korea’s urgent messaging about the outbreak indicates a willingness to receive outside help. It has shunned vaccines from a U.N.-backed program. 

China and South Korea say they're willing to help but indicated North Korea hasn't requested any.

South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron

South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts.

For about three weeks, the country has seen increasing numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but not increases in severe cases and deaths, said Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

“We're still very early in this increase period, so I don’t want to really call it a wave,” Nunes said. “We are seeing a slight, a small increase in hospitalizations and really very few deaths.”

South Africa's new cases have gone from an average of 300 per day in early April to about 8,000 per day this week. Nunes says the actual number of new cases is probably much higher because the symptoms are mild and many who get sick are not getting tested.

South Africa's new surge is from two variations of omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, which appear to be very much like the original strain of omicron that was first identified in South Africa and Botswana late last year and swept around the globe.

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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