More than 250,000 Indiana residents age 70 and older have scheduled appointments to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including more than 125,000 people age 70 to 79 who scheduled vaccines Wednesday, the first day of that age group's eligibility, the Indiana State Department of Health said Thursday.
That means more than 695,000 Hoosiers have scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine. People age 70 and older account for about 11% of the state's population but represent about 42% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and about 78% of pandemic deaths, the state health department said.
Eligible Hoosiers can register to receive the vaccine by going to https://ourshot.in.gov, by calling 211 or by contacting one of the state's Area Agencies on Aging. Caregivers or loved ones may also make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior.
Vaccines are free, but insurance may be charged an administrative fee. Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first shot is administered.
In addition to seniors age 70 or older, those eligible to receive the vaccine include people who work or volunteer in health care and have physical or close contact, or face-to-face interactions with patients; people who are exposed to COVID-19 infectious material; and first responders including firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services, reservists and volunteers who have contact with the public and could be called to the scene of an emergency.
Additional groups of residents will be added to the eligibility list as more vaccines become available.
Many Indiana communities are still in dangerous territory, according to data provided by the state coronavirus dashboard. To combat a spike in cases, Noble County has implemented a new set of pandemic restrictions, as most of northeast Indiana remains in the red, county health officials said Thursday.
The restrictions use Gov. Eric Holcomb's executive order – issued Dec. 10 and extended through Jan. 24 – as a guide.
The public health order authorized by Dr. Terry Gaff, Noble County's health officer, states the Noble County Health Department will not accept or approve plans for any social gatherings or events where attendance is expected to exceed the attendance limits outlined in Holcomb's order.
According to Holcomb's executive order, color-coded designations govern attendance limits in individual counties.
Events in counties with a blue designation may have up to 250 people present. Events in yellow counties can have up to 100 people and orange counties may have up to 50 people per event. Counties with a red designation may only have 25 people per event.
Noble County's capacity limits extend to all facilities or individuals that host social gatherings and events, including but not limited to entertainment venues, sports venues, restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service.”
Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and any other business that provides food and drink service are also restricted to 50% indoor capacity.
Under the county's latest order, outdoor tent seating is allowed, but only if the tent has at least two open-air sides for ventilation. The establishments must also close between midnight and 5 a.m. Bar seating must be closed as well, the order states.
Sporting events in Noble County must also adhere to the governor's order, but the Noble County Health Department may approve additional spectator attendance “upon submission of a safety plan submitted seven days in advance of the event.”
Gyms and fitness centers must also restrict capacity to 50%, Gaff's order states.
Noble County, like most of the rest of northeast Indiana, is classified as red, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. State data available Thursday indicated 23 new cases in Noble County, but no new deaths.
In Allen County, an additional 199 residents have tested positive and two more have died from COVID-19, the county department of health said Thursday. That brings the total Allen County case count to 31,419, with 539 deaths.
Allen County has also implemented more strict capacity and attendance limits similar to those announced Thursday in Noble County.
DeKalb County officials on Thursday reported 25 new coronavirus cases. That brings DeKalb County's totals to 3,362 cases and 72 deaths.
Statewide, 4,411 additional residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of Indiana cases to 578,494.
A total of 8,830 Hoosiers have been killed by the virus.
Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department