Coronavirus: State Lifts Pause On Johnson & Johnson, Lawmakers Pass Vaccine Passport Ban

Apr 26, 2021

The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday it was lifting its pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following federal guidance.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana Department of Health reported 49 additional confirmed deaths over the last week. That brings the state’s total to 12,864 confirmed deaths. The state also reported more than 6,700 new cases in the last week.

Indiana has administered 2,284,216 initial vaccine doses, with 1,730,577 Hoosiers fully vaccinated.

Here are your statewide COVID-19 headlines from last week.

Indiana Lifts Pause On Johnson & Johnson Vaccines; Follows FDA, CDC

The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday it is lifting its pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following federal guidance.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised pausing use of the vaccine on April 13, while both conducted investigations into an extremely rare but serious side effect.

In a statement, the FDA and CDC said the investigations determined the vaccine was safe to use, but included new guidance for primary care and vaccine providers for a blood clot, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with low levels of blood platelets. The organizations also said the risk for this blood clot remains extremely low.

Indianapolis 500 To Allow 40 Percent Capacity, Highest-Attended U.S. Sporting Event In A Year

The Indianapolis 500 will bring fans back this May after having none at last year’s race, at 40 percent capacity.

The race was already the most attended single-day sporting event. Even with the reduced number of fans – roughly 135,000 – it will be the largest in-person sporting event since the start of the pandemic.

The state has been using IMS as a mass vaccination site. Officials are adding vaccination dates in May to continue to encourage Hoosiers to get vaccinated, ahead of the race.

No State Income Tax Relief For Unemployed Hoosiers In Bill Headed To Holcomb

Indiana will tax unemployment benefits received in 2020 as income in legislation headed to the governor. It comes after lawmakers debated a bill that would have temporarily waived the taxes in order to match a one-time federal tax break.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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Lawmakers in the House wanted to shield $10,200 of unemployment benefits from state income tax, mirroring federal tax relief provided to out-of-work Hoosiers. But the Senate disagreed and removed that language in the now-final version of SB 383.

Indiana Lawmakers Enact COVID-19 Vaccine Passport Ban At 2021 Session's Close

The legislation, HB 1405, simply bans the state or local governments from issuing or requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports, showing proof of immunization status.

Earlier language this session also implicated private businesses. But House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said he wanted the final product focused only on what the government could and couldn’t do.

“Private employers need to make the decisions that are best for them and their customers,” Huston said.

Local Health Officials Hands Bound By State Lawmakers Reacting To COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s going to be a lot harder for local health officials to create and enforce temporary restrictions during a public emergency under legislation approved Wednesday.

The bill, SB 5, says local health officials have to get approval from their local legislative body – county commissioners or city council – to pass emergency rules that are stricter than anything the state puts in place.

So, for instance, if a county health officer wants to impose a mask mandate now that Gov. Eric Holcomb ended the statewide order, their county commissioners must vote to do so.

$37 Billion State Budget Clears Legislature With Shockingly Overwhelming Support

Maybe the biggest surprise of the 2021 legislative session happened on its final day when a new, $37 billion state budget passed with almost no opposition.

A revenue forecast unveiled a week ago was the game changer. It projected $2 billion more for the new budget, much of it put into K-12 education that all but guarantees teacher pay raises. There’s also more than $5 billion in one-time spending, from state and federal sources – paying down debt and investing in infrastructure projects and economic recovery.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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