While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for April 29


INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Biden’s post-pandemic plans. President Joe Biden declared Wednesday night in his first address to a joint session of Congress that the nation is “turning peril into possibility,” celebrating progress against the coronavirus and urging a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform roles the government plays in American life.

Biden repeatedly hammered home how his plans would put Americans back to work, restoring the millions of jobs lost to the virus.

He laid out a sweeping proposal for universal preschool, two years of free community college, $225 billion for child care and monthly payments of at least $250 to parents. His ideas target frailties that were uncovered by the pandemic, and he argues that that economic growth will best come from taxing the rich to help the middle class and the poor.

COVID variants. State health officials believe an increase in statewide positivity rates could be the result of COVID variants reaching Indiana. Labs at Purdue have been sequencing these variants for months.

“It’s just looking at the genetic code of the virus and seeing how has it changed from the original virus that was identified in China,” explains Willie Reed, Dean of Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The veterinary school’s animal disease diagnostic lab was one of two labs on campus to shift gears to studying COVID-19. The research can help them determine if these variants are undermining vaccines or other COVID prevention measures. They are utilizing positive samples from students and faculty on campus.

Combating vaccine hesitancy. Indiana health leaders are addressing vaccine hesitancy as demand in Indiana stalls. We learned on Wednesday afternoon some more about why some people are still hesitant to roll up their sleeves, and what the state is doing to change their minds.

Right now, only a third of Hoosiers eligible for the vaccine are now fully vaccinated. And state leaders say they’re doing everything they can to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s interesting because I think people spend a lot of time talking about the people that are just dead set against it. And I don’t know how we’re going to do that,” said IU Health, Associate Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Paul Calkins.

Right now, 211 is calling residents in nearly 50 counties to learn why people are not getting vaccinated.

Summer sports for kids. Summer youth sports are just a few months away and thousands of Hoosier parents say they are ready for facilities to scale back restrictions.

According to the latest study done by researchers at IUPUI, the removal of face coverings for participants had the most support (75%), followed by bench and dugout modifications (73%), and limiting spectators (71%).

“We are 100% just reporting where parents are on their perception,” said David Pierce, Director of IUPUI’s Sports Innovation Institute. “We really want to help venue operators and tournament organizers be prepared.”

Appointments through Uber. Uber said Wednesday it was launching new features in its app to allow U.S. customers to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments and reserve rides.

Customers would be able reserve an appointment at a Walgreens pharmacy to receive a vaccine and book an Uber ride to travel there, the firm said in a product presentation.

The feature, which expands an Uber and Walgreens partnership announced in February, reflects the wider availability of COVID-19 inoculations in the United States, where every state has opened up vaccines to all adults.

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