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Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

The latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic from Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

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 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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FDA backs Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk

The U.S. moved a step closer Wednesday to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to senior citizens and others at high risk from the virus as the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the targeted use of the extra shots.

The FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger people with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high-risk for COVID-19. The ruling represents a drastically scaled back version of the Biden administration’s sweeping plan to give third doses to nearly all American adults to shore up their protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

However, more regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened a two-day meeting Wednesday to make their own, more specific recommendations about who should get the extra shots and when. And in their first day of discussions, some experts were so perplexed by the questions surrounding the rationale for boosters that they suggested putting off a decision for a month in hopes of more evidence.

The uncertainties were yet another reminder that the science surrounding boosters is more complicated than the Biden administration suggested when the president and his top aides rolled out their plan at the White House last month.

ISDH daily

There are 3,936 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with 72 more deaths. Indiana has had a total of 941,120 positive cases and 14,836 deaths from the virus.

As of Tuesday, there were 2,436 COVID-19 patients in Indiana hospitals. Nearly 31% of the state's ICU beds were being used by COVID patients, and just over 18% of ICU beds in the state remain available.

The Indiana State Department of Health also reports 5,784 more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. A total of 3,227,295 individuals are fully vaccinated.

President Biden doubling vaccine purchase, calls for more global shots

President Joe Biden is set to announce that the United States is doubling its purchase of Pfizer's COVID-19 shots to share with the world to 1 billion doses as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within the next year.

The stepped-up U.S. commitment is to be the cornerstone of the global vaccination summit Biden is convening virtually Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where he plans to push well-off nations to do more to get the coronavirus under control.

The U.S. purchase, according to two senior Biden administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview Biden’s remarks, will bring the total U.S. vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022. At least 160 million shots supplied by the U.S. have been distributed to more than 100 countries, representing more donations than the rest of the world combined.

The latest purchase reflects only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population — and 70% of the citizens of each nation — by next September’s U.N. meeting. It's a target pushed by global aid groups that Biden will throw his weight behind.

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.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 42.41 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 678,500 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 229.54 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.7 million deaths. More than 5.96 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.

IndyGo hosting vaccine clinics each Wednesday in September

IndyGo is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by giving away free access to the public transportation service for one month.

A vaccine clinic will be held at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center at 201 E. Washington St. Wednesdays in September — the 22nd and 29th — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Everyone who gets vaccinated will receive a free 31-day IndyGo paper pass at the clinic immediately following their vaccination. 

All three vaccines will be available, including the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for anyone 18 years and older, and the Pfizer vaccine for anyone 16 years and older.

IndyGo's future headquarters at 9503 E. 33rd St. is still open for free vaccinations Tuesdays through Saturdays in partnership with the Marion County Public Health Department.