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Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Aug. 17, 2022.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Wednesday'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 all Hoosiers through the Indiana 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

Jill Biden tests positive for COVID-19

Less than two weeks after her husband's COVID-19 isolation ended, first lady Jill Biden has tested positive for the virus. 

The White House said Jill Biden tested negative for COVID-19 Monday as part of regular testing, but then developed cold-like symptoms in the evening. A rapid antigen test came back negative, but she tested positive on a PCR test. 

"The First Lady is double-vaccinated, twice boosted, and only experiencing mild symptoms," the White House said in a Tuesday morning statement. 

Like her husband, Jill Biden was prescribed the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. She will isolate from others for at least the next five days and is currently in South Carolina, where she and Biden were on vacation. She will return home after two negative COVID tests in a row.

Joe Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday morning, the White House said, but would be testing more frequently and wearing a mask indoors for 10 days in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. He recovered from a rebound case of the virus on Aug. 7. According to the CDC, rebound cases are mild and occasionally occur in patients who take Paxlovid.

CDC map shows 60 Indiana counties at 'high risk' of spreading COVID-19

On Wednesday morning, Aug. 17, 2022, nearly two-thirds of Indiana was classified in the high-risk category for spreading COVID-19.

The counties listed on the CDC data map as having a "high" community risk of spreading COVID-19 include (listed alphabetically): Allen, Bartholomew, Benton, Blackford, Brown, Cass, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Daviess, Dearborn, Decatur, Dekalb, Delaware, Dubois, Floyd, Fountain, Franklin, Fulton, Grant, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Miami, Morgan, Noble, Orange, Parke, Perry, Pike, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Steuben, Sullivan, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Washington, White.

There were also 26 more Indiana counties listed as "medium" risks, including Hamilton and Hendricks.

Adams, Boone, Montgomery, Starke, Union and Wells are the only counties listed as "low" risks for spreading COVID-19 as of Monday.

Over the past seven days, Indiana has recorded 14,989 new cases and 82 deaths.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 93.14 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 4:15 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1.037 million deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 592.32 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.44 million deaths and more than 12.03 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.  

EU could OK combined COVID vaccines next month

Germany’s health minister says European Union drug regulators may authorize the use of vaccines that are effective against two variants of the coronavirus. 

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he expected the European Medicines Agency to meet Sept. 1 to consider a vaccine that would provide protection against the original virus and the omicron variant. 

He says the EU agency would likely meet again on Sept. 27 to review a combined vaccine against the original virus and omicron offshoot BA.5, which is responsible for the latest global surge in COVID-19 cases.

Germany has procured sufficient amounts of both vaccines and would be able to start rolling them out a day after they received authorization, he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that combination vaccines, known as “bivalent” or “multivalent” shots, will allow boosters to retain the proven benefits of original coronavirus vaccines while providing additional protection against new variants.

Such an approach is used with flu shots, which are adjusted each year depending on the variants that are circulating and can protect against four influenza strains.

Lauterbach, a trained epidemiologist, said the potential for the coronavirus to keep mutating remained high.

CDC drops quarantine, distancing recommendations for COVID-19

The nation's top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

The changes, which come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic, are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said the CDC's Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines.

Many places around the country long ago abandoned social distancing and other once-common precautions, but some of the changes could be particularly important for schools, which resume classes this month in many parts of the country.

Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the end of the recommendation that schools do routine daily testing, although that practice can be reinstated in certain situations during a surge in infections, officials said.

The CDC also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test — instead of quarantining at home — to keep attending school. With no quarantine recommendation anymore, the testing option disappeared, too.

Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.

Defense secretary Austin positive for COVID for second time

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19, is experiencing mild symptoms and will quarantine at home. It's the second time Austin has gotten the coronavirus.

In a statement, Austin, 69, said he is fully vaccinated and has received two boosters. He said he'll quarantine for the next five days in accordance with CDC guidelines and “will retain all authorities and plan to maintain my normal work schedule virtually from home.”

Austin said his last in-person contact with President Joe Biden was on July 29.

In January, Austin also contracted COVID and had received a booster in October.

“Now, as in January, my doctor told me that my fully vaccinated status, including two booster shots, is why my symptoms are less severe than would otherwise be the case,” Austin said. “I will continue to consult closely with my doctor in the coming days.”

What to know about BA.5, BA.4 variant symptoms

As Americans ramp up their summer travels without their masks, two COVID-19 subvariants are causing a surge in cases. 

BA.5, which accounts for 65% of cases, and BA.4, which is 16% of cases, are omicron's smarter cousins. The two subvariants are evading antibodies and even vaccine protections, as they are one of the most contagious versions of the virus yet.

"It knows how to trick our immune system," said TEGNA's medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli.

Since the subvariants derived from the original omicron variant, symptoms fall under the same umbrella. However, symptoms still vary depending on vaccination status, age, prior infection, medication and other factors, said Kohli.

Data collected from the Zoe app in the UK show most symptoms mimic the common cold, with sore throats and runny noses. Kohli said a significant change in symptoms for the subvariants are heightened amounts of sneezing, something not seen in earlier forms of the COVID-19 variant. 

The subvariants responsible for the latest surge pose a different threat as it also has higher rates of reinfection.

Parents can schedule vaccine appointments for young children

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced that the public can now schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children through age 5 by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov.

Appointments are available for individuals seeking the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years and the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years on the state's scheduling platform. 

IDOH has updated its map at www.ourshot.in.gov to show sites that offer vaccines for the youngest age group.

Appointments are recommended due to vaccine and provider availability. Individuals also can call 211 for assistance or contact their child’s healthcare provider to determine if they are offering vaccines.

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information.

Riley Children's Health offering COVID-19 vaccines

Riley Children's Health has the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.

Appointments are required and can be made by calling 211.

Riley Physicians at IU Health West: 

  • Mondays and Thursdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 1111 Ronald Reagan Pkwy, Avon

Riley Physicians at IU Health North:

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 11700 N. Meridian Street, Carmel

Riley Physicians at East Washington

  • Tuesdays and Fridays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 9650 Washington St #245, Indianapolis

Riley Physicians at Methodist Medical Plaza South

  • Wednesdays and Thursdays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 8820 S Meridian St Suite 125, Indianapolis

Riley Physicians at Georgetown

  • Tuesdays and Fridays: 5 p.m.-8:20 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 8 a.m.-11:20 a.m.
  • 4880 Century Plaza Rd Suite 250, Indianapolis

MCPHD offering COVID vaccine for kids 6 months to 4 years old

The Marion County Public Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 6 months to 4 years old at its district health offices and ACTION Health Center.

To see the schedule for each location, click here. Vaccinations are by appointment only. Call the specific location to make an appointment, or call MCPHD's Immunization Program at 317-221-2122.

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