INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic you may have missed overnight.
Here’s a look:
Pop up clinic on Speedway’s Main Street. The 105th running of the Indy 500 is just three days away, but race fans are already taking over the town of Speedway.
Those enjoying the festivities along Main Street now have the opportunity to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
Along with a COVID-19 shot, people will also get an Indianapolis Motor Speedway “Got My Shot” t-shirt. They’ll also be eligible to receive one of four special-edition IndyCar helmets signed by every driver participating in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Race day risks. With race day fast approaching, health officials urge attendees to the Indy 500 to remember, you’ll be required to wear a mask while you’re at the race and hopefully, while you’re in downtown Speedway.
Doctors like Vice President of Medical Affairs for Franciscan Health Christopher Doehring say the risk is there, when it comes to the potential of a ‘super-spreader’ event this weekend, but it may not be directly caused by what could be the largest in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic.
“No doubt there is an increased risk. The good news is we do have relatively low levels of spread of the virus right now in the community,” Dr. Doehring said. “If someone’s not vaccinated, I think it’s still a good idea to be based even outside and I appreciate the fact that the speedway is putting the expectation in place.”
But the 500 will attract some 135,000 fans from, likely, far beyond Indiana. Dr. Doehring says the threat of spreading COVID-19 in an outdoor setting like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very low. Masks or not.
US investigation into origins. President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off GOP complaints the president has not been tough enough as well as to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.
Biden on Wednesday asked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days. He directed U.S. national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government. He called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.
Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory accident rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China.
Biden in a statement said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around those two scenarios but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and “one leans more toward” the lab theory, “each with low or moderate confidence.”
Vaccine passports. Boarding pass, suitcase, passport and … digital vaccination certificate?
Keen to avoid losing another summer of holiday revenue to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union, some Asian governments and the airline industry are scrambling to develop so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports to help kickstart international travel.
They’re working on systems that would allow travelers to use mobile phone apps to prove they’ve been vaccinated, which could help them avoid onerous quarantine requirements at their destinations.
But the multiple efforts underscore the lack of one central international system to electronically verify vaccination status. The projects also face technical challenges in working together, while questions about privacy and vaccine inequality linger.