Coronavirus: House GOP Relaunches Vaccine Mandate Bill, COVID-19 Cases in Indiana Soar
Republicans at Indiana House sign legislation to effectively ban corporate vaccination warrants. Indiana is reporting a single-day total of more than 6,000 new cases for the first time since January. And the state passes over 17,000 confirmed deaths.
Indiana reported 6,160 new cases on Wednesday, surpassing peaks in the state’s late-summer wave driven by the delta variant.
COVID-19 cases had trended downward for six consecutive weeks after the peak of this outbreak. But in the past few weeks, cases have started to pick up, increasing 90% from late October through Thanksgiving week.
Indiana has reported more than 27,000 new cases in the past week – the most reported since mid-September. It eclipsed 1.1 million confirmed cases on Tuesday, November 30.
And hospitalizations have also increased. After hovering around 1,300 for a few weeks, the last census stood at 2,408.
The state also surpassed 17,000 confirmed deaths last week, crossing the grim milestone on Wednesday, December 1.
These deaths still tend to be younger than at the start of the pandemic. Before August 1, less than 3% of deaths were Hoosiers under the age of 50. But just since August 1, that number has jumped to almost 10%.
On a slightly more positive note: As of the dashboard update date of Friday, 65,790 Hoosier ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.
THE STATE’S RESPONSE
House GOP’s top priority in 2022 is to end COVID-19 vaccine mandates
Republicans at Indiana House have revealed their top priority for the 2022 legislative session. The 56 House GOP caucus members signed a reintroduced bill that would effectively ban private companies from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Republicans originally planned to pass their bill last week, suspending all rules to approve the bill in a single day. But the state’s major business and healthcare organizations have strongly opposed, prompting Republicans to back down.
But the House GOP still wants to move the matter forward once lawmakers return in January for their regular session.
The reintroduced bill, HB 1001, is almost exactly the same, with one minor difference. Previously, it listed âpregnancy or anticipated pregnancyâ as reasons for not getting the vaccine. It has been deleted.
What the religious exemption laws say and how Indiana lawmakers might change them
Indiana companies have voluntarily demanded vaccination of workers for months. And for some of their employees, religious exemptions appear to be the easiest way to avoid tenure – even if it’s not necessarily a principle of their religion.
A complicated mix of federal rules and newly proposed state laws leaves many companies wondering how to keep workers safe while upholding religious rights.
Micah Beckwith is a pastor in Noblesville and outspoken in Conservative political circles. Earlier this year, he started receiving messages from people looking for a way out of the COVID-19 vaccine when their jobs began to voluntarily require it.
“I’m going to spend an hour on the phone, every other day, it seems like with people who are just screaming, they’re crying, they’re just like, ‘I don’t know what to do. Know who to turn to.’ he said. “‘And then I heard about you.'”
READ MORE: How Indiana Distributes COVID-19 Vaccines Here’s what you need to know
Join the conversation and sign up for Indiana Two-Way. Text “Indiana” to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text message help us find the answers you need about COVID-19 and other statewide issues.
So Beckwith helps them define these beliefs as faith. He believes he has helped thousands of people write letters calling for religious vaccine exemptions, backed by scriptures from the Bible.
But how is an employer supposed to handle these requests, even if they suspect that a worker’s religious belief is not sincere? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that when it comes to vaccines and religion, a company’s default policy should be to grant them. But it can pose questions to workers.
Holcomb says COVID-19 ‘is going to be with us for a long time’
Gov. Eric Holcomb said he and other state officials were constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation as concerns grew over the latest version of the virus, the omicron variant.
Holcomb said he believes it is settling down for people that COVID is “going to be with us for a long time.”
The governor wants to end the state’s public health emergency soon, as long as lawmakers make administrative changes to him that will ensure Hoosiers do not lose access to hundreds of millions of federal dollars. And he said the omicron variant doesn’t necessarily change that plan.
Early Learning Indiana Announces $ 1.7 Million in Grants to Increase the Quality and Capacity of Child Care Services
Indiana’s largest preschool education nonprofit on Tuesday announced $ 1.7 million in grants, aimed at filling gaps in care across the state.
The recipients include Appleseed Childhood Education in Jasper County, Scott County School District 2, and the Henry County Child Care Network.
READ MORE: Indiana announces $ 540 million grant program to stabilize child care industry
The grant program is one of many that have been offered this year to help address long-standing issues in child care and support services during the pandemic.
Hoosier schools finalize teacher contracts, many of whom are getting big salary increases
Many schools in Indiana have finalized significant salary increases for teachers in recent weeks, and although some schools have struggled to strike a deal, most have made deals with their educators before the date. limit set by state.
Indiana lawmakers earmarked funds specifically for teacher salary increases during the 2021 legislative session. Heads of state said they expected schools to pay those dollars to teachers afterwards. protests across the state and country – and the pandemic has increased the workload of educators around the world.
Denny Costerison is the Executive Director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. He said schools need to be careful not to incorporate temporary COVID-19 relief funding into their long-term budgets.
“How do we make sure that we are using these dollars as they were meant to be used, and second, that we don’t end up in problems that would probably hit us in the future – it might even be two, three, four?” years later, âhe said.