INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.
Here’s a look:
150,000 new cases. For the first time, the U.S. surpassed 150,000 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The United States reported 153,496 COVID-19 cases on Thursday. That’s the nation’s highest daily caseload and the first time the number of coronavirus infections exceeded 150,000 in a single day.
It’s the tenth straight day U.S. cases have exceeded 100,000.
The seven-day average is 131,455 cases, according to the university’s COVID-19 tracker. The previous seven-day average was 94,340.
Deaths are also up nationally. During that 7-day span, an average of about 1,000 people died per day. It was 887 for the previous seven-day span.
More than 67,000 people have been hospitalized nationwide, a new high, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Nearly 12,800 were in intensive care and more than 3,400 were on ventilators.
In all, the U.S. has reported 10,554,804 cases and 242,430 deaths during the pandemic. Both are the most in the world.
California became the second state — behind Texas — to eclipse a million known cases. The nation’s most populous state (40 million residents) ranks 39th nationwide in the number of cases per 100,000 residents.
Marion County restrictions. Facing a renewed surge of COVID-19, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine outlined their most stringent restrictions since the pandemic began.
Hogsett said the current increase in cases represented a fundamental shift from public spread to spread of the coronavirus at private events and homes.
Indicators of community spread include events and gatherings indoors, coworkers who return to work, weddings and funerals.
The public health order includes a variety of changes affecting bars, entertainment venues, restaurants, gyms and social gatherings. Schools must go virtual no later than Nov. 30.
Here are the changes Hogsett and Caine outlined. They go into effect Monday:
- Entertainment venues, bars limited to 25% indoor capacity, with 100% capacity allowed outside
- For restaurants, reduced capacity indoors at 50% and 100% allowed outdoors
- Live entertainment venues must be cleared of all patrons at 12 a.m.
- Self-service buffets, salad bars banned
- No karaoke allowed
- Maximum party size reduced to 6 at bars and clubs
- Wedding, concerts, sporting events limited to 25% capacity
- Gyms and fitness centers at 25% capacity
- Midnight closure time extended to all hospitality and entertainment businesses, including live entertainment
- Religious services limited to 75% indoor capacity
- Social gatherings limited to 25 or fewer people
- Libraries, funeral homes, mall food courts reduced to 50% indoor capacity
- Cultural venues, music venues, tourism sites, other non-essential businesses to 25% capacity
- Marion County will require a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours to visit a long-term care facility
- No later than Nov. 30, all Marion County schools will return to virtual instruction; it includes all grades K-12
- Starting Nov. 30, extracurricular activities and sporting events can include only participants, parents or guardians and support personnel
- School order ends January 15, 2021
Return to virtual learning. Marion County schools will return to virtual instruction no later than Nov. 30, with many districts having already announced their plans.
Many parents of Marion County students were not surprised when health officials announced all K-12 schools must return to virtual learning by the end of the month.
The Marion County Public Health Department expressed concerns about an increase in the positivity rate among all grade levels.
Starting Monday November 23, MSD of Lawrence Township Township will be shifting to K-12 virtual instruction. School buildings and the Welcome Center will remain open.
“I was disappointed but not surprised, honestly,” said Brandace Schubert, mother of two Lawrence Township students. “With the numbers going up, I assumed things would start to shut down again.”
Parents like Schubert are preparing to welcome their kids back home for school until at least January. That is how long the new health order will stay in effect.
“Disappointed because I just, not only from hearing the feedback from my children but also seeing the reflection in some of their grades,” she said.
On the same day as MSD of Lawrence Township, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will return to 100% remote learning for all grades.
“Last week there was a COVID case in my son’s classroom, and we went through the whole testing scare,” said Erin Macey, an IPS parent.
This past week, Macey was able to get paid leave as her son quarantined all because of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
“My husband and I both have full time jobs, and when you suddenly have kids at home and they need help with e-learning, it is a lot. It is a lot to expect of working families,” she said.
Waiting for testing. Hoosiers across central Indiana are waiting sometimes hours in line at testing sites to get a COVID-19 test. Others are having trouble finding an open time slot to make an appointment.
Joe Meyer, Senior Vice President of System Operations at IU Health, said the demand is increasing as the virus quickly spreads.
“Because we don’t have a vaccine, even if I had a high-risk exposure last weekend and tested negative, you know if I had a high-risk exposure next week, I might want to be tested again,” Meyer said. “So, what you really see is a compounding effect on COVID-19 testing demand.”
IU Health is testing symptomatic patients. If you are asymptomatic or concerned about being highly exposed, Meyer urges you to take certain precautions before getting a test.
“If you think you’ve had a high-risk exposure then you should quarantine, isolate yourself,” Meyer said.
Riverview Health is testing every patient coming into the hospital before a surgery or procedure. However, they are only testing symptomatic people at all Riverview Health Emergency Room & Urgent Care locations in Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, West Carmel/Zionsville, as well as at Riverview Health Physicians offices too.
Meyer said the demand is high everywhere.
“I would be hard pressed to find any laboratory who wouldn’t say they need more testing,” Meyer said.
The Marion County Health Department is also testing all symptomatic people, and all frontline essential workers whether they are symptomatic or not. People can make appointments on the department’s website, marionhealth.org.
The Indiana State Health Department is also offering free COVID-19 testing. There are no requirements for testing, according to the website. You can look up the location nearest you and schedule an appointment on their website, www.coronavirus.in.gov.