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Indiana coronavirus updates for Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

The latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic from Tuesday, Sept. 14, 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.

RELATED: Here's everything we know about the COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: FDA grants full approval of Pfizer vaccine: Your questions answered

Fauci says he 'would support' COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travel

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he "would support" mandating that people be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to go on a flight. 

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), made the comments in an interview posted to Instagram on Monday by The Skimm.

"If you want to get on a plane and travel with other people ... you should be vaccinated," Fauci said in response to a question on whether he'd support vaccine mandates for air travel. 

In response to Fauci's comments, the U.S. Travel Association said while the organization supports people getting vaccinated, they have "long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel." 

"Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine," the organization said in a statement.

The nation's top infectious disease expert told The Washington Post on Monday that he's supportive of a mandate, but isn't proposing one.

Indy Symphonic Choir adjusts COVID-19 rules for audiences

The Indianapolis Symphonic choir is increasing its rules to protect people from COVID-19.

They are now requiring people to be vaccinated or show a negative PCR COVID test to attend their shows. They will not accept a rapid or antigen test.

The change is effective immediately.

Everyone is also required to wear a mask.

UK to offer booster to 50+

The U.K. announced Tuesday it will offer a third dose of coronavirus vaccine to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people to help the country ride out the pandemic through the winter months.

The booster shots, which will be rolled out beginning next week, were approved a day after the Conservative government also backed plans to offer one vaccine dose to children 12 to 15 years old.

Members of governor's Public Health Commission announced

The Indiana Department of Health announced the appointment of 12 members to the governor's Public Health Commission. It will study Indiana’s public health system and make recommendations for improvement. The areas the commission will look at will include structure, funding and operations.

The newly appointed members are:

  • Grant County Commissioner Mark Bardsley of Marion
  • Marion County Health Officer Virginia Caine, MD, of Indianapolis
  • Mayor Bob Courtney of Madison
  • Hendricks County Commissioner Dennis Dawes of Brownsburg
  • Carl Ellison of Indianapolis, president and CEO of the Indiana Minority Health Coalition
  • Paul Halverson, DrPH, FACHE, of Indianapolis, founding dean of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
  • Kim Irwin of Indianapolis, administrator of the Indiana Public Health Association
  • Hannah Maxey, PhD, MPH, RDH, of Fishers, director of the Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research & Policy at the IU School of Medicine
  • Brian Tabor of Indianapolis, president of the Indiana Hospital Association
  • Cara Veale, DHS, OTR, FACHE, of Washington, CEO of the Indiana Rural Health Association
  • Allen County Health Department Administrator Mindy Waldron of Fort Wayne
  • Ripley County Health Officer David Welsh, MD, of Versailles

“We have the talent and brain power on this commission to achieve our vision of every Hoosier having equal access to essential public health services, regardless of where they live,” said Dr. Kris Box, State Health Commissioner. “The work we undertake here will lay the foundation for better health for all Hoosiers and ensure Indiana is well-positioned for the future.”

The commission will look at local health departments around the state and behaviors and circumstances to improve health. That means looking at funding needs, governance of local health departments, counties joining together to boost programs and share resources, workforce shortages, and prevention with things like vaccinations for children.

Those recommendations will then be brought to the state legislature in the hopes of improving health statewide.

The commission will hold its first meeting on Thursday.

ISDH update

The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting 91 more COVID-19 deaths and 3,580 new cases. The death toll in Indiana from COVID-19 stands at 14,482.

The state is also reporting 5,598 more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. More than 3.1 million in Indiana are vaccinated.

FDA to meet Friday on Pfizer booster shot

An FDA committee is meeting this Friday to review Pfizer's booster shot and discuss who should get one, and when.

If they agree to move forward, the FDA could give full approval.

Right now, COVID-19 boosters are only available under emergency use for people with compromised immune systems.

Indiana hospitals strained for ICU space amid latest surge

Indiana hospitals continue to take the brunt of a statewide surge in infections and hospitalizations spurred by the more contagious delta variant. 

The state health department's latest report showed hospitals around the state were treating 2,631 patients for COVID-19 as of Sunday — up more than six times for the state's level of about 400 patients a day in early July. Statewide, nearly 83% of all ICU beds are occupied. 

Dr. Chris Weaver, an emergency medicine physician and senior vice president of clinical effectiveness for IU Health, said that while last winter's surge has taught hospitals to more quickly convert rooms to accommodate critical care patients, ICUs are "full and capacity is tight."

Indiana health officials announce COVID-19 testing expansion

The Indiana Department of Health has announced that Indiana will increase free COVID-19 testing across the state through a partnership with Gravity Diagnostics. 

The state health department says that under the partnership, the Kentucky-based company will provide staff and supplies needed to collect and analyze up to 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day, including rapid antigen and PCR tests. 

The testing operation is expected to come together in a matter of weeks and have the ability to expand to up to 45 sites, if needed. 

The agreement also offers the option to provide voluntary testing in K-12 school settings statewide, although details are still being finalized.

Eskenazi Health partners with churches on vaccine clinics

Eskenazi Health will partner with Eastern Star Church, Resurrection Community Church, New Direction Church and Purpose of Life Ministries on COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

September vaccine event dates and times:

  • Date: Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021
    Location: New Direction Church, 5330 E. 38th St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46205
    Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021
    Location: Resurrection Community Church, 2502 E. 38th St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46218
    Time: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

October vaccine event dates and times:

  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021
    Location: Eastern Star Church – CARE Center, 5719 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, Ind. 46218
    Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Date: Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021
    Location: New Direction Church, 5330 E. 38th St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46205
    Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Date: Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021
    Location: Resurrection Community Church, 2502 E.38th St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46218
    Time: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Date: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021
    Location: Purpose of Life Ministries, 3705 W. Kessler Blvd. N. Dr., Indianapolis, Ind. 46222
    Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

November vaccine event dates and times:

  • Date: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021
    Location: Purpose of Life Ministries, 3705 W. Kessler Blvd. N. Dr., Indianapolis, Ind. 46222
    Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 41.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 662,130 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 225.28 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.639 million deaths. More than 5.72 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.

FDA experts among group opposing US booster shot plan

The average person doesn't need a COVID-19 booster yet, an international group of scientists — including two top U.S. regulators — wrote Monday in a scientific journal.

The experts reviewed studies of the vaccines' performance and concluded the shots are working well despite the extra-contagious delta variant, especially against severe disease.

"Even in populations with fairly high vaccination rates, the unvaccinated are still the major drivers of transmission" at this stage of the pandemic, they concluded.

The opinion piece, published in The Lancet, illustrates the intense scientific debate about who needs booster doses and when, a decision the U.S. and other countries are grappling with.

After revelations of political meddling in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, President Joe Biden has promised to "follow the science." But the review raises the question of whether his administration is moving faster than the experts.