The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Thursday, April 21, 2022.
Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 5 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO says global COVID cases, deaths declined again last week
The World Health Organization says that the number of reported new COVID-19 cases worldwide decreased by nearly a quarter last week. That means there’s been a decline in reported infections since the end of March.
The Geneva-based UN health agency said in a weekly report that nearly 5.59 million cases were reported between April 11 and 17. That’s 24% fewer than in the previous week. The number of newly reported deaths dropped 21% to 18,215.
WHO said new cases declined in every region though only by 2% in the Americas. The agency said that “these trends should be interpreted with caution as several countries are progressively changing their COVID-19 testing strategies, resulting in lower overall numbers of tests performed and consequently lower numbers of cases detected.”
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 80.80 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 7 am ET Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 990,200 deaths recorded in the US
Worldwide, there have been more than 507.13 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.20 million deaths and more than 11.21 billion vaccine doses administered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.
Surprisingly low Shanghai COVID death count spurs questions
In a city of 25 million people with hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 cases, Chinese health authorities have reported only 25 coronavirus deaths. An Associated Press examination of the death toll sheds light on how the figures have been obscured by the way Chinese health authorities tally virus statistics, applying a much narrower, less transparent, and at times inconsistent standard than the rest of the world.
Interviews with family members of patients who have tested positive, a publicly released phone call with a government health official and an internet archive compiled by families of the dead all raise issues with how the city is counting its cases and deaths, almost certainly resulting in a dramatic undercount.
In most countries, including the United States, guidelines stipulate that any death where COVID-19 is a factor or contributor is counted as a COVID-related death.
But in China, health authorities count only those who died directly from COVID-19, excluding those whose underlying conditions were worsened by the virus.
“If the deaths could be ascribed to underlying disease, they will always report it as such and will not count it as a COVID-related death, that’s their pattern for many years,” said Jin Dong-yan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong’s medical school.
That narrower criteria means China’s COVID-19 death toll will always be significantly lower than those of many other nations.
Modern announces step towards updating COVID shots for fall
Modern hopes to offer updated COVID-19 boosters in the fall that combine its original vaccine with protection against the omicron variant. On Tuesday, it reported a preliminary hint that such an approach might work.
Today’s COVID-19 vaccines are all based on the original version of the coronavirus. But the virus continues to mutate, with the super-contagious omicron variant – and its siblings – the latest threat.
Before omicron came along, Moderna was studying a combination shot that added protection against an earlier variant named beta. Tuesday, the company said people given that beta-original vaccine combination produced more antibodies capable of fighting several variants – including omicron – than today’s regular booster triggers.
While the antibody increase was modest, Moderna’s goal is to produce a combination shot that specifically targets omicron.
Indianapolis airport no longer requiring masks
Masks will no longer be required at Indianapolis International Airport, effective immediately.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority shared the following statement with 13News Tuesday morning:
Now that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) order requiring masks at public transportation hubs is no longer in effect and TSA will not enforce mask-related security directives, masks are no longer required at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND). We’re in the process of updating or removing signage throughout the airport campus.
Lift, Uber make big changes to COVID-19 mask policies
Uber said Tuesday that its passengers will no longer need to wear COVID-19 masks, and Lyft made a similar announcement soon after.
The ridesharing apps’ decisions followed the lead of many airlines and airports after a federal judge in Florida ruled the CDC had overstepped its bounds by extending the mandate for another two weeks.
“Masks are now optional while riding or driving with Lyft,” the company said via email. “We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders may decline to accept or cancel any ride they do not wish to take.”
In an update to its website, Lyft said riders and drivers are no longer required to keep the front seat empty or the windows open.
Uber told US customers of the changes in a tweet, adding that mask usage is still recommended while sharing a car. Uber’s website clarifies that masks are now optional for drivers as well.
IndyGo lifts mask mandate effective immediately
IndyGo announced early Tuesday morning that it has lifted its mask requirement, sending 13News this statement:
Due to Monday’s court ruling and under the guidance of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), IndyGo has lifted the federal transportation mask mandate. Effective immediately, those riding with IndyGo or visiting IndyGo properties are no longer required to wear a mask. Those who wish to wear a mask may continue to do so. “