While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 26

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

50% adults vaccinated. The United States hit a major vaccination milestone Tuesday: Half of all adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data, that’s 50% of the U.S. population 18 years and older — nearly 130 million adults.

Fully vaccinated means that a person has received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A person doesn’t have full protection until it’s been two weeks since the final dose, according to the CDC.

Even younger teens are getting there: The CDC reports that 46.8% of people in the U.S. who are at least 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated within a month of Pfizer receiving FDA authorization to vaccinate younger teens.

Pushback against IU vaccine mandate. Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas is leading a group of lawmakers in efforts to stop Indiana University and others from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, he wrote a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb explaining his request. It says, “Nobody is disputing that COVID-19 is real, or dismissing the contributions of healthcare professionals over the past year; however, enforcing a mandate that students and faculty accept a vaccine that does not have full FDA approval is unconscionable. Students’ classes will be dropped, others will be ostracized from IU, and employees will be terminated per this new policy.”

Nineteen lawmakers signed onto the demand including Rep. Beau Baird, Rep. Stephen Bartels, Rep. Martin Carbaugh, Rep. Sean Eberhart, Rep. Bob Heaton, Rep. Matt Hostettler, Rep. John Jacob, Rep. Chris Judy, Rep. Cindy Ledbetter, Rep. Shane Lindauer, Rep. Chris May, Rep. Peggy Mayfield, Rep. Bob Morris, Rep. Curt Nisly, Rep. J.D. Prescott, Rep. Hal Slager, Rep. Heath VanNatter and Rep. Denny Zent.

We reached out to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office, “Our office has received the letter and will review it with the Governor when he returns from Israel,” said Spokesperson Alec Gray.

Support for fourth stimulus payment. Members of a powerful congressional committee are calling for additional rounds of economic relief from the federal government for families still struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the third round of $1,400 stimulus checks behind us, a letter sent late last week to President Joe Biden from seven Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee calls for a fourth and fifth round of direct payments to assist people with housing, food and other payments. The committee oversees government budgeting and taxation. The group that signed the letter represents about 15% of the committee’s members.

“Families and workers shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead as the country continues to fight a global pandemic and recession,” reads the letter.

The letter, dated May 17, doesn’t mention a dollar amount but lays out the possibility of two additional rounds of relief.

Pep rally tactics. A growing number of public schools are using mascots, food trucks and prize giveaways to create a pep-rally atmosphere aimed at encouraging students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before summer vacation.

Districts from California to Michigan are offering free prom tickets and deploying mobile vaccination teams to schools to inoculate students 12 and up so everyone can return to classrooms in the fall. They are also enlisting students who have gotten shots to press their friends to do the same.

Officials are concerned that once school lets out, it will be even tougher to get enough teens vaccinated in time to guarantee widespread immunity on campuses.

The massive effort has just gotten underway because it was only two weeks ago that federal regulators authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15. Younger children are not yet eligible.

So far, about 14% of the nation’s 15 million kids ages 12 to 15 have received their first shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among 7.5 million teens ages 16 and 17, that number goes up to 34%, and about 22% have had both shots, according to the latest figures released Monday. The doses are scheduled about three weeks apart.

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