While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for March 1

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

Marion County restrictions. Marion County eased back its COVID-19 restrictions Monday.

It comes as COVID infection trends in the county improve, and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says the Circle City needs to be ready for this month’s NCAA tournament.

The following changes take effect Monday, March 1:

  • Bar capacity will go from 25% to 50%.
  • Indoor restaurant capacity increases from 50% to 75%.
  • Gyms and venues will also go from 25% to 50% capacity.
  • Bars, restaurants, and music venues will be able to close at 2 a.m. instead of midnight.

The changes allow more customers in to local businesses and permits doors to stay open later.

J&J vaccines shipped. Nearly 4 million doses of the newest COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped Sunday night, and will begin to be delivered to states for injections starting on Tuesday.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients announced that the entire stockpile of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go out immediately. J&J will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June.

Though the new shot is easier to administer and requires only one dose, the administration is not altering its distribution plans. Zients says, “We’re distributing the J&J vaccine as we do the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine.”

Sharing vaccine know-how. In an industrial neighborhood on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s largest city lies a factory with gleaming new equipment imported from Germany, its immaculate hallways lined with hermetically sealed rooms. It is operating at just a quarter of its capacity.

It is one of three factories that The Associated Press found on three continents whose owners say they could start producing hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines on short notice if only they had the blueprints and technical know-how. But that knowledge belongs to the large pharmaceutical companies who produce the first three vaccines authorized by countries including Britain, the European Union and the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. The factories are all still awaiting responses.

Unemployment fraud. With the floodgates set to open on another round of unemployment aid, states are being hammered with a new wave of fraud as they scramble to update security systems and block scammers who already have siphoned billions of dollars from pandemic-related jobless programs.

The fraud is fleecing taxpayers, delaying legitimate payments and turning thousands of Americans into unwitting identity theft victims. Many states have failed to adequately safeguard their systems, and a review by The Associated Press finds that some will not even publicly acknowledge the extent of the problem.

The massive sham springs from prior identity theft from banks, credit rating agencies, health care systems and retailers. Fraud perpetrators, sometimes in China, Nigeria or Russia, buy stolen personal identifying information on the dark web and use it to flood state unemployment systems with bogus claims.

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