While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for February 26


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

Here’s a look:

J&J vaccine under review today. A third COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available to Americans, joining the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

A Food and Drug Administration committee will meet Friday to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.

Earlier this week, the FDA committee said the J&J vaccine is safe and effective, so it is very likely its usage will be recommended.

Marion County restrictions. In a virtual conference Thursday, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County’s Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced the county is easing back on some restrictions.

Starting on Monday, March 1, the following changes will take effect:

  • Bars, restaurants, and music venues will be able to close at 2 a.m., moving past midnight, for the first time in months.
  • Bar capacity will go from 25% to 50%.
  • Indoor restaurant capacity increases from 50% to 75%.
  • Gyms will also go from 25% to 50% capacity.

80% vaccination goal. Marion County is setting a goal of vaccinating 80% of its population. To do that, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced a new COVID Community Ambassadors Program.

Ambassadors will receive regular vaccine updates via email, as well as social media graphics they can share with family, friends and neighbors.

“We are kind of in a race here where we need to get many people vaccinated as quickly as possible to prevent the kind of replications that can lead to mutations and new variants,” said Matt Giffin, Interim Director of Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS).

OPHS is partnering with the Marion County Public Health Department to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly in minority communities in Indianapolis.

Vaccination standby lists. More and more Hoosiers are becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s a race to get vaccinated no matter how young or how old.

But there are also several Hoosiers getting shots who may not be eligible under state requirements. That’s because of standby and waiting lists being generated at hospitals and clinics.

There are two sides to this but technically none of these clinics are in the wrong. On one hand, the state wants these clinics to have standby and waiting lists to make sure no doses are wasted. On the other hand, they want those lists only to include those who are eligible.

COVID-19 relief vote today; minimum wage hike excluded. The Democratic-controlled Senate cannot include President Joe Biden’s proposed $15 per hour minimum wage in a $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill the party aims to pass without Republican votes, the body’s parliamentarian ruled.

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber’s nonpartisan arbiter of its rules, found the minimum wage hike must be dropped from the COVID-19 bill, Democratic Senate aides Thursday told the Associated Press. Democrats are on track to push a sprawling COVID-19 relief measure through the House on Friday.

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