While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for June 24

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

CDC myocarditis discussion findings. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel said there is a “likely association” between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and rare reports of heart inflammation in younger age groups.

Still, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ultimately concluded that the benefits of receiving a shot “clearly outweigh” the risks.

The panel is currently looking into 323 confirmed cases of what’s called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscles. They said the condition is most common in adolescent men ages 16 to 24 roughly five days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Of the 323 diagnosed myocarditis, 309 of whom were hospitalized, 295 were discharged at the time of analysis and at least 79% recovered from symptoms. Nine remain hospitalized to date, and two are in intensive care units.

“All that being said, we also need to remember the number is exceedingly low,” said Community Health Chief Physician Executive Dr. Ram Yeleti. “Twelve in one million is still very, very rare. You’re more likely to get struck by lightning.”

Dr. Yeleti said myocarditis is also a symptom of COVID-19, and the chances of getting the condition from the virus is much higher than getting the condition from a vaccine.

Child Tax Credit tool now live. Not sure if your family qualifies for the expanded child tax credits that will start going out next month? The IRS now has a new online tool that allows taxpayers to check their eligibility.

Launched Tuesday, the Advance Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant can help American families quickly determine if they qualify for monthly payments of up to $300 per child by having them answer a simple set of questions, according to an IRS news release.

When using the tool, users should have their 2020 tax return on hand; however, if they haven’t submitted that yet, they can go off of their 2019 filing.

For those who don’t have a copy of their tax return but know their filing status, estimates can be made based on income statements like W-2s and 1099s, and the amount of expenses and adjustments to total income.

The tool then walks users through a set of questions, beginning with whether the taxpayer claimed the child tax credit on their 2019 or 2020 return, and whether they have established residency in the U.S. for more than half of that year.

If the user isn’t sure whether they claimed the child tax credit previously, they’ll be asked their tax filing status, the modified adjusted gross income from their latest tax return and the number of children they claimed for the credit.

Once completed, the tool lets families know if they qualify for advanced monthly payments of up to $300 per child under the age of 6 and $250 for each child aged 6 to 17. The total for the year is up to $3,600 and $3,000 respectively.

Full capacity for Purdue football and volleyball. Purdue University is returning to 100% capacity at Ross-Ade Stadium and Holloway Gymnasium for the upcoming fall and volleyball seasons.

A news release from Purdue said Tippecanoe County will not mandate any social-distancing restrictions or facial coverings at football and volleyball contests this fall.

All traditional football gameday activities at Ross-Ade Stadium will resume, including pregame tailgating, the Boilermaker Crossing, fan shuttles and band and cheer performances. Some enhanced safety measures in place include digital ticketing and parking passes for contactless entry and payment, contactless gate admission pedestals at all entry gates and cashless transactions at concession stands and the Purdue Team Store.

The Purdue football team will play six games at Ross-Ade including the season opener on September 4, against Oregon State.

The Purdue volleyball team will open Big Ten play Sept. 24, at home against Ohio State. The full schedule will be released at a later date.

Decisions about capacity in Mackey Arena and other athletics facilities have not been announced.

Franklin College protocol. Franklin College says it will not require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall, but there will be some limitations for those who decide not to get vaccinated.

“These distinctions are in place only to ensure student safety and subject to change pending additional guidance from the CDC or local health officials,” said Vice President for Student Development & Dean of Students Dr. Andrew B. Jones.

Franklin College says fully vaccinated students:

  • Will NOT have to participate in surveillance testing (unless required for athletic compliance)
  • Will NOT have to quarantine if identified through contact tracing (unless symptomatic)
  • Will NOT have to wear masks indoors or outdoors
  • Will NOT have to practice social distancing
  • Will be eligible for study away programs 

Those who are not vaccinated: 

  • WILL be required to participate in surveillance testing (at their own expense; details about cost and frequency of testing to be announced)
  • WILL be required to isolate or quarantine, off campus, if positive or identified through contact tracing
  • MAY have to wear masks indoors in some circumstances
  • MAY have to practice social distancing in some circumstances
  • Will NOT be eligible for study away programs

Surge in Missouri. As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri is becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the country: It is seeing an alarming rise in cases because of a combination of the fast-spreading delta variant and stubborn resistance among many people to getting vaccinated.

Intensive care beds are filling up with surprisingly young, unvaccinated patients, and staff members are getting burned out fighting a battle that was supposed to be in its final throes.

The hope among some health leaders is that the rest of the U.S. might at least learn something from Missouri’s plight.

“If people elsewhere in the country are looking to us and saying, ‘No thanks’ and they are getting vaccinated, that is good,” said Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, which has been inundated with COVID-19 patients as the variant first identified in India rips through the largely non-immunized community. “We will be the canary.”

The state now leads the nation with the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections, and the surge is happening largely in a politically conservative farming region in the northern part of the state and in the southwestern corner, which includes Springfield and Branson, the country music mecca in the Ozark Mountains where big crowds are gathering again at the city’s theaters and other attractions.

While over 53% of all Americans have received at least one shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most southern and northern Missouri counties are well short of 40%. One county is at just 13%.

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