While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 25

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

Here’s a look:

Vaccine passport ban. Indiana’s ban on government-issued COVID-19 vaccine passports has some questioning whether it applies to state universities.

The language in HEA 1405 passed in the final moments of session and didn’t get a lot of discussion.

According to the new law, Indiana state and local government units cannot create or mandate a vaccination card or passport.

“A local unit is a city or a town or a county,” said Ross Silverman, a health policy professor with the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health.

So, is a public education institution like Indiana University a government unit? Silverman argues the law says no.

“Under Indiana law, Indiana University is defined as a state educational institution. That’s its formal terminology. It’s not considered a state agency, it’s not considered local government,” explained Silverman.

Hoosier death rate slowing. For the first time in over a month, the Indiana State Department of Health reported no new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Sunday.

The last time no deaths were reported was back on April 4, but five deaths were later traced back to that day.

Experts say we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“Opening everything by July 4th is probably unrealistic, but by July 4th, we could open up a good portion of the economy and indoor spaces for individuals, especially those who have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, director of informatics at Regenstrief Institute.

Indiana is falling behind other states in the number of vaccinations, and the national rates of confirmed cases and deaths are declining at a faster rate than in the Hoosier State.

70% vaccination rate among select states. As the number of vaccinated Americans continues to grow, COVID-19 cases are falling, leaving officials optimistic that efforts to slow the spread are working.

Nine U.S. states have given 70 percent of adult residents at least one shot, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those states are Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Earlier this month, President Biden announced a July 4 goal of 70 percent of U.S. adults receiving at least one shot.

The states still under the 50 percent threshold include Idaho, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama and Arkansas.

No masks for young New Yorkers. In a joint statement released Monday from New York State and the Department of Health, guidance has been revised for child care programs saying young children no longer have to wear masks.

This comes after hundreds of parents were set to sue the state over the revised rule.

The statement reads that while masks for children ages 2-5 are encouraged, it is not required.

Read the statement below:

We thank the providers who have worked so hard since the start of the pandemic to remain open to serve the families of those who could not stay home and we recognize their valiant efforts in serving working families who need quality, reliable and safe child care.

Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately.

The safety of the children in child care programs is of paramount importance. As more families are returning to work, New York State is investing federal funds in stabilizing the industry and expanding child care programs throughout the state, especially in underserved areas.

We strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible…

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