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Indiana coronavirus updates for Monday, November 23, 2020

Coronavirus updates from Monday, Nov. 23.

INDIANAPOLIS — Monday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Butler University fan restrictions

Butler University will limit capacity at Hinkle Fieldhouse for its men’s basketball season opener to 1,500 fans. The Bulldogs will play Western Michigan Wednesday at 6 p.m. 

Following the season opener, Butler will consider increasing the fan capacity to 2,000 for Sunday night’s game against Eastern Illinois at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“As the first game of the season approaches, we decided that this is a prudent step to take,” said Barry Collier, Butler Vice President and Director of Athletics. “Capping our fan capacity at roughly 15 percent for the season opener takes into account the trending COVID-19 numbers that we are seeing locally.”

The Marion County Public Health Department had approved a fan capacity of 25 percent at Hinkle Fieldhouse, which is a little under 2,300 fans.

Hamilton County updates restrictions

A new public health order with stricter restrictions will go into effect in Hamilton County Wednesday, Nov. 25. Hamilton County is currently under the orange (moderate to high transmission) level of the state's color-coded metrics.

Here is what is in the order if the county remains in the orange level:

  • The Hamilton County Health Department will not approve any safety plans for social gatherings of more than 250 people. 
  • Organizers of social gatherings and events at venues with multiple, clearly separate areas, such as banquet rooms, conference rooms, or multiple sports fields, must submit a safety plan for each separate area up to a maximum of 250 individuals per gathering or event.
  • Attendance at community recreational sports leagues and tournaments will be restricted to 250 people (including participants, personnel, and spectators).

If the county is upgraded to the red (very high transmission) level, here's what will change:

  • The Hamilton County Health Department will not approve any safety plans for social gatherings of more than 100 people.  
  • Organizers of social gatherings and events at venues with multiple, clearly separate areas, such as banquet rooms, conference rooms, or multiple sports fields, must submit a safety plan for each separate area up to a maximum of 100 individuals per gathering or event.
  • Attendance at community recreational sports leagues and tournaments will be restricted to 100 people (including participants, personnel, and spectators).
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service must limit capacity to 50% of indoor capacity. 
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service must be closed and cleared of customers between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. to perform enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols.  
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service will only be allowed to seat customers at tables. Bar seating will be closed.
  • Gyms, exercise, and fitness centers (including yoga studios, dance studios, karate studios, martial arts studios, and other similar fitness centers) must limit capacity to 50%. 
  • Cultural, entertainment, and tourism sites (including museums, music venues, auction venues, flea market, and parks) must limit capacity to 50%. 
  • All other non-essential entertainment businesses (including movie theaters, bowling alleys, trampoline parks, boating and marina facilities, and rock wall climbing facilities) must limit capacity to 50%.  
  • Personal service businesses (including salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, microblading and tattoo parlors) may remain by appointment. Face coverings may be removed for beard trimming or as required to complete the service.

Schools will be allowed to implement their own plans for ensuring health and safety.

The county also said residents are strongly encouraged to quarantine for 14 days if they travel to or from another county, state or country.

ISDH update

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 5,606 new cases taking Indiana to more than 300,000 cases now since the pandemic began.

Indiana passed 5,000 deaths on Sunday and reported an additional 27 more on Monday. The state total now stands at 5,067.

Firefighters association asks governors for first access to vaccines

The International Association of Firefighters has asked the National Governors Association for early access to any distributions of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a letter dated Nov. 19 to the NGA, the IAFF requested governors to "include firefighters and emergency medical responders on the highest priority tier in your state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan."

The letter cited statistics for first responder exposure to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

  • More than 30,000 firefighters with known exposures to COVID-19 on duty
  • 17,000 required to quarantine or isolate
  • 150 professional firefighters have hospitalized upon contracting the virus
  • At least 19 have died

By providing early vaccinations to first responders, the IAFF reasoned local governments will save money as absenteeism will drop and public safety will increase.

Moe & Johnny's closed indefinitely

Popular Broad Ripple sports bar Moe & Johnny's is temporarily closing its doors after facing challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The business announced the news on social media Sunday, saying the challenges brought on by the pandemic took them back to the drawing board.

"The year 2020 has proven to be a challenge that is taking us back to the drawing board," the bar said on Twitter. "So, it is with a heavy heart and a deep consideration for our community that we have decided to close our doors entirely until further notice. We look forward to what the future holds, and finding out what that future looks like."

AstraZeneca: COVID-19 vaccine 'highly effective' in prevention

AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. 

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine. 

Dr. Andrew Pollard said, “these findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives.” He said if people were given a half dose followed by a full dose, rather than two full doses, protection rose to about 90 percent. 

Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, have reported preliminary results showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 percent effective. However, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine does not have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it far easier to distribute in developing countries.

RELATED: First COVID immunizations could arrive in the U.S. on Dec. 12

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IPS returns to virtual learning Monday

Indianapolis Public Schools began the year virtually Aug. 17, started a phased reopening in October, but are now back to virtual learning.

All grades in central Indiana's largest school district will be learning virtually Monday, Nov. 23 through at least Monday, Jan. 18. 

Mayor Joe Hogsett said all Marion County schools must return to e-learning by Nov. 30.

Lawrence Township moves to virtual learning Monday

Lawrence Township students in grades K-12 are moving to virtual instruction Monday, Nov. 23. 

Pre-K will resume on-site programming Monday, Nov. 30.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 12.24 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 2:30 a.m. ET Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 256,000 deaths and 4.52 million people recovered.

Worldwide, there have been more than 58.64 million confirmed cases with more than 1.38 million deaths and 37.48 million recoveries.

RELATED: See where confirmed Indiana coronavirus cases are with this interactive map

RELATED: VERIFY: Are Indiana’s new COVID-19 case numbers inflated with multiple positive tests for the same person?

The real number of people infected by the virus around the world is believed to be much higher — perhaps 10 times higher in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — given testing limitations and the many mild cases that have gone unreported or unrecognized.

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.

MCPHD drive-thru testing sites changing hours during holiday week

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites operated by the Marion County Public Health Department are changing for the week of Thanksgiving.

Hours on Monday and Tuesday will not change, but sites that have testing hours on Wednesday will close at noon. All sites will be closed on Thanksgiving Day Thursday. 

Testing at the health department's main location at 3838 N. Rural Street will be available by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Regular testing hours will resume Monday, Nov. 30.

Testing is free, but you need to register in advance and make an appointment. Appointments can be made at MarionHealth.org/indycovid or call 317-221-5515.

Fishers opening 2nd testing site Monday

The Fishers Health Department is opening a second COVID-19 testing site dedicated to prioritizing testing for school-related exposures for Hamilton Southeastern schools and private schools in Fishers. 

The site will open Monday, Nov. 23 for testing Monday through Saturday. Alternative hours will be in place for Thanksgiving week. 

Residents may make an appointment by visiting fishers.in.us/testing and selecting "Testing for Fishers Residents."

The Fishers Health Department's secondary testing site is located at 8933 Technology Dr. in Fishers.