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Indiana coronavirus updates for Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

The latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic from Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

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 12 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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US COVID-19 deaths topping 1,900 a day

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.

The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralized health care workers.

The nation was stunned back in December when it was witnessing 3,000 deaths a day. But that was when almost no one was vaccinated.

Now, nearly 64% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And yet, average deaths per day have climbed 40% over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1,947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Health experts say the vast majority of the hospitalized and dead have been unvaccinated. While some vaccinated people have suffered breakthrough infections, those tend to be mild.

ISDH daily update

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 2,673 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 81 more deaths. Tuesday's reported deaths occurred from Aug. 30 to Sept. 20. To date, Indiana has had a total of 937,221 positive cases and 14,765 deaths from the virus.

The state also reported 6,838 more Hoosiers were fully vaccinated Tuesday. That brings Indiana to a total of 3,221,558 fully vaccinated individuals.

Testing site opening at Bloomington's College Mall

The Covid Clinic is opening a drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic at College Mall in Bloomington. The testing site will have rapid antibody, rapid antigen, expedited PCR and antigen/flu combination tests, plus rapid testing for worldwide travel.

Testing will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. For more information and to schedule testing, click here.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shot is 94% effective, study says

Johnson & Johnson announced on Tuesday that receiving a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine can provide stronger protection from the virus.

In a Phase 3 study, the company said that the second shot of its vaccine received 56 days after the first provided 94% protection against COVID-19 in the United States. It added that it offers full protection against severe/critical cases of COVID-19 at least 14 days post-final vaccination.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study's results haven't yet been peer-reviewed.

The New Jersey-based company added that when a booster shot was given after two months, "antibody levels rose to four to six times higher than observed after the single shot."

A booster shot given six months after the first provided a 12-fold increase in antibodies, Johnson & Johnson said.

The Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine was given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February of this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 14.8 million Americans have already received a J&J vaccine.

Compared to the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the single Johnson & Johnson dose had slightly lower efficacy. However, the data from the booster shot study shows a similarly high effectiveness level to the other options.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 42.28 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 676,000 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 229.09 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.7 million deaths. More than 5.94 billion vaccine doses have been 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.

IMS' 5-week COVID-19 vaccine, testing clinic begins Tuesday

The Indiana Department of Health is teaming up with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to host a five-week clinic of free COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

The clinic will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m., beginning Sept. 21 and ending Oct. 30. The clinic will take place in the IndyCar parking lot at 4551 W. 16th St. across from Gate 2.

The two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which has been fully approved by the Food & Drug Administration, and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be offered at the clinic. The flu vaccine will also be available, while supplies last.

Click here to pre-register to get vaccinated and search by ZIP code 46222. Click here to pre-register to get tested and click on the testing link at the top of the page; then, search for the IMS site. 

No appointments are required for flu vaccinations, which will be available to everyone, regardless of insurance status. However, all applicable insurance coverage will be billed for seasonal influenza vaccine.

COVID has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000. 

The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million. 

The Spanish flu's U.S. death toll is a rough guess, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Biden easing foreign travel restrictions, requiring vaccines

President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated.

All foreign travelers flying to the U.S. will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight, said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the new policy on Monday. Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.

Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, Zeints said.