While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for June 22

Coronavirus

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

Here’s a look:

150M Americans fully vaccinated. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since the early days of the disaster in March 2020, while the drive to put shots in arms approached another encouraging milestone Monday: 150 million Americans fully vaccinated.

The coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But now, as the outbreak loosens its grip, it has fallen down the list of the biggest killers.

CDC data suggests that more Americans are dying every day from accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes or Alzheimer’s disease than from COVID-19.

The U.S. death toll stands at more than 600,000, while the worldwide count is close to 3.9 million, though the real figures in both cases are believed to be markedly higher.

About 45% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Over 53% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine. But U.S. demand for shots has slumped, to the disappointment of public health experts.

Butler vaccine requirement. Butler University announced Monday it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff members.

The university is asking for proof of vaccination by Aug. 1.

“It is quite clear to me that requiring the vaccine best supports an environment that allows us to provide an educational experience that is most effective, with the highest degree of safety, and the least number of restrictions,” Butler President James Danko wrote in a letter to the Butler community. “Regarding the environment outside of the classroom, I am confident that we will be able to fully restore a vibrant on-campus experience, allowing our students to return to pre-pandemic activities.”

By requiring vaccinations, Butler expects herd immunity will be established within the campus community. This will allow the university “to restore the campus experience for students, faculty and staff this year,” the school said in a release.

IU students sue. A group of Indiana University students are suing over the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, eight students allege that the requirement that students, staff and faculty be vaccinated against the virus before returning to campus in the fall violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity and the right to reject medical treatment, and Indiana’s recently passed “vaccine passport” law. 

IU’s vaccine requirement has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced last month. State officials have called on the university to rescind the mandate; others have asked Gov. Eric Holcomb to block it. Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a public opinion that it violated state law.

Responding to public pressure, university officials said earlier this month that the requirement would stand, but documentation to prove vaccination status would no longer be required. Individuals simply have to certify their status through an online form. 

Child tax credits. The Biden administration’s monthly child tax credit payments will start hitting bank accounts July 15.

According to the IRS, those who are eligible will be able to get up to half of the total credit in advance monthly payments and claim the rest while filing their 2021 taxes.

Monthly child tax credit payments will go out for approximately 65 million kids.

The child tax credit was established as a part of the American Rescue Plan signed into law in March.

Families will get monthly payments of up to $300 for each child 6 years old and under and up to $250 for each child 6 to 18 years old.

“The thing that people do have to worry about or think about is if their 2020 income was less than what it may be in 2021. They may have to pay some of this money back,” said Craig Petrella, a certified public accountant.

The plan raises the maximum payments a family can receive per child from $2,000 to $3,600.

Threat of arrest in the Philippines. The Philippine president has threatened to order the arrest of Filipinos who refuse COVID-19 vaccination and told them to leave the country if they would not cooperate with the efforts to contain the pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is known for his public outbursts and brash rhetoric, said in televised remarks Monday night that he has become exasperated with people who refuse to get immunized then help spread the coronavirus.

“Don’t get me wrong. There is a crisis being faced in this country. There is a national emergency. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I’ll have you arrested and I’ll inject the vaccine in your butt,” Duterte said.

“If you will not agree to be vaccinated, leave the Philippines. Go to India if you want or somewhere, to America,” he said, adding he would order village leaders to compile a list of defiant residents.

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