While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 20

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

Debate over mask mandate. Fully vaccinated people in Marion County will have to wear their masks a little while longer according to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Marion County Health Department. 

Some Republican Councilors of the city/county leadership have other ideas, they want the mask mandate dropped Monday. 

Republicans like Minority Leader of the Indianapolis City Council District 25 Brian Mowery say the mayor’s office is sending a confusing message to Hoosiers; do we trust the science or don’t we? If the CDC says masks are no longer needed for fully vaccinated individuals, why should it be any different in Indy?

“If we’re gonna follow the science, let’s follow the science,” Mowery said. “We’ve been telling people they need to wear these masks; they need to wear these masks; they need to wear these masks… that’s great. But at the end of the day if the science says you don’t need to wear them… then let’s move on.”

Holcomb against vaccine lottery. The chance Indiana will offer any kind of cash for getting vaccinated is slim. Though our neighbors in Ohio are running a COVID-19 vaccine lottery, Governor Eric Holcomb said he doesn’t support the idea here.

“We’ve taken a different approach,” said Gov. Holcomb.

He wants every Hoosier to get the COVID-19 vaccine but said creating a lottery for a shot makes him uncomfortable.

“Some people will never get vaccinated and some people might wait until they waited for that monetary enticement, so I don’t want folks to wait,” said Holcomb. “I want to do everything we can as a state to make it easy. It’s obviously free to get vaccinated so we all get through this as soon as possible.”

Walgreens drops mask requirements. Fully vaccinated customers will no longer be required to wear face masks inside Walgreens stores, unless mandated by state or local regulations.

Under the new guidelines issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — can quit wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings and give up social distancing.

Walgreens released the following statement:

Following the latest CDC guidance, beginning today, May 19, Walgreens will no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear face coverings inside of our stores, unless mandated by state or local regulations.  

Customers who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing face coverings, and our team members will continue to wear them while working. The health and safety of our customers and team members will continue to guide our decision process.

China providing vaccines to Africa. China said Thursday it is providing COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 40 African countries, describing its actions as purely altruistic in an apparent intensification of what has been described as “vaccine diplomacy.”

The vaccines were donated or sold at “favorable prices,” Foreign Ministry official Wu Peng told reporters.

Wu compared China’s outreach to the actions of “some countries that have said they have to wait for their own people to finish the vaccination before they could supply the vaccines to foreign countries,” in an apparent dig at the United States.

“We believe that it is, of course, necessary to ensure that the Chinese people get vaccinated as soon as possible, but for other countries in need, we also try our best to provide vaccine help,” said Wu, who is director of the ministry’s Africa department.

While the U.S. has been accused by some of hoarding vaccines, President Joe Biden on Monday pledged to share an additional 20 million vaccine doses in the coming six weeks, bringing the total U.S. commitment to 80 million. The Biden administration hasn’t said which countries will receive them.

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