While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for February 2

Nearly 96,000 Hoosiers ages 65 to 69 sign up for vaccine appointments. The Indiana State Department of Health announced Monday that Hoosiers age 65 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

By 5 p.m. Monday, nearly 96,000 Hoosiers ages 65 to 69 had scheduled appointments to receive their first dose of vaccine, according to ISDH. In total, the department says more than 1.3 million first and second-dose appointments have been scheduled since Indiana began offering vaccine in late December.

The vaccine is available at no cost, and appointments can be made by visiting the state’s website here.

Hoosiers who do not have access to a computer or cell phone or who need assistance with registration also can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for assistance. A caregiver or loved one may make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior.

The vaccine requires two doses. The appointment for the second dose will be made when the first dose is administered.

Biden meets Republicans on virus aid, but no quick deal. President Joe Biden told Republican senators during a two-hour meeting he’s unwilling to settle on an insufficient coronavirus aid package after they pitched their slimmed down $618 billion proposal that’s a fraction of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking.

No compromise was reached in the lengthy session Monday night, Biden’s first with lawmakers at the White House, and Democrats in Congress pushed ahead with groundwork for approving his COVID relief plan with or without Republican votes. Despite the Republican group’s appeal for bipartisanship, as part of Biden’s efforts to unify the country, the president made it clear he won’t delay aid in hopes of winning GOP support.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that while there were areas of agreement, “the president also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address.”

She said, “He will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

The two sides are far apart, with the Republican group of 10 senators focused primarily on the health care crisis and smaller $1,000 direct aid to Americans, and Biden leading Democrats toward a more sweeping rescue package, three times the size, to shore up households, local governments and a partly shuttered economy.

On a fast track, the goal is to have COVID relief approved by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires, testing the ability of the new administration and Congress to deliver, with political risks for all sides from failure.

Fewer hospital staff in quarantine since health care workers began receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Some Indiana hospitals are noticing an improvement in staffing levels since COVID-19 vaccinations began in mid-December.

Healthcare workers were the first to get doses in the state, and many have received their second dose already. A little more than a month after vaccine doses arrived in Indiana, hospitals are now finding fewer staff in quarantine.

On December 30, 76 employees at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis were quarantined. On January 27, 36 employees were quarantined.

“It is very tempting to draw a straight line there,” said Dr. Amy B. Kressel, medical director of infection prevention at Eskenazi Health.

Indy St. Patrick’s Day Parade canceled. Due to the pandemic, the 40th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade that was scheduled for this March, as well as the 29th Annual Shamrock Run Walk scheduled for Saturday, March 13 have been canceled for a second year in a row.

The Greening of the Canal will still happen on March 17, officials say.

“We had hoped we could hold the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Shamrock Run/Walk as we have for so many years, but as we approach another year, the pandemic shows no signs of weakening any time soon.   We feel compelled to still keep the Greening of the Canal so that the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day is not forgotten” says Robert Welch, Athletic Club Foundation Chair. “While it will not be open to the public, we hope that seeing the green canal through the media or as people walk along the canal on March 17th, they will be uplifted by the memories of previous celebrations and take solace knowing that we will be able to celebrate it again in the future.”

Evansville woman gets second dose of vaccine on her 100th birthday. A 100-year-old Hoosier is celebrating her milestone birthday fighting back against the coronavirus.

“Oh, I looked forward to it,” said Mildred Grassman after getting her second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. “I thought it was a good birthday present.”

When vaccination volunteers at Ascension St. Vincent Evansville realized Grassman’s second vaccine appointment would fall on her big birthday, they knew they had to do something special.

“Mildred has such a spunky, fun attitude about life,” explained Ascension St. Vincent registered nurse Claire Gammons, who spearheaded the efforts for the surprise.

“When Mildred came in to get her vaccine they played ‘happy birthday’ across the loud speaker. I imagine under that mask she was completely surprised. She said she felt like a queen.”

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