While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for June 8

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

Marion County mask mandate. The City-County Council voted Monday night to relax some of Indianapolis’ COVID-19 emergency health orders at the recommendation of Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine.

The council approval allows fully vaccinated residents to remove their masks, except for in certain situations such as hospitals and other medical settings, airports and public transportation including IndyGo and ridesharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.).

The new public health order became effective at midnight, June 8.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 43% of Marion County residents are fully vaccinated as of Sunday, 45% had at least one dose of the vaccine, and the county’s positivity rate has dropped to 4.8%, just below Dr. Caine’s “gold standard” for progress against the pandemic.

1,500 Cummins workers return. As COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to climb across the state, larger employers are offering a return to in-person employment to their staff. 

Well, some of them. 

Cummins Corporate Office Building along Jackson Street in Columbus welcomed back 1,500 fully-vaccinated employees who volunteered to return as part of a new pilot test group. 

Cummins management says if all goes to plan, the time to return is soon, if you’d like to. 

“We don’t want everybody just to snap back into the old ways, right? We really do want that flexibility,” Cummins Director of External Communications Jon Mills said. “Our leadership has recognized the productivity has been strong. They want to provide the employees with the right working environment, and employees have expressed flexibility as a key to how we return to work, how we operate going forward.”

Grant to boost rates. Overcoming language and cultural barriers with verified information while providing access to free COVID-19 shots is the goal of a $1 million grant program announced by the City of Indianapolis and county health department. The money will be distributed across 86 organizations.

Even though state health officials say 43% of Marion County has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of mid-May, the Marion County Public Health Department reported less than 20% of Indianapolis’ Asian, Latinx and Black/African American residents had received their shots.

“It was a lot of myths on the vaccine, like for example they’re gonna change their DNA, or like for example they’re gonna put a chip in their body,” said Virna Diaz, executive director of the Latino Health Organization.

“The hesitancy is coming in about not having enough information about the shot, especially people that have health complications,” said James Wilson, CEO of Circle Up Indy.

“When the primary language is either French or Creole and there’s not much support for translation of services and programs within their native language,” said Kendra Nowell of CAFÉ Indy, “if you do not know about the services and programs that are available because it’s not there in your native tongue, then you can’t even get to that point of it.”

1M doses to Mexico. Mexican border cities will get 1 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, that country’s president said Monday.

The announcement by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador comes on the eve of Kamala Harris’ visit to Mexico to discuss how to curb the ongoing migrant surge that continues to vex law-enforcement in both countries.

“The main topic on the agenda is immigration, how to deal with the causes of migration,” Lopez Obrador said Monday in a televised news conference. “We coincide in the need to help Central American countries, on the need to invest in jobs and development in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We are willing to help.”

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