Indiana expands COVID-19 vaccines to Hoosiers 70 and older

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers 70 and older can now register to receive coronavirus vaccinations as Indiana continues to expand access to the shots, the Indiana State Department of Health said Wednesday.

The vaccines became available to Indiana residents 80 and older last Friday following the initial rollout of doses for Indiana health care workers and nursing home residents and staffers in December. Nearly 86,000 Hoosiers in that age group had scheduled appointments to receive the free COVID-19 vaccines as of 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the state health department.

Health officials said last week that they planned to start offering vaccinations in the coming weeks next to those 70 and older and then 60 and older.

Appointments for those 70 and older can be made at the website or by calling the state’s 2-1-1 telephone assistance service. As of Wednesday morning, 148 vaccination sites were available around the state. All but one of the state’s 92 county health departments has offered a vaccination clinic.

State health officials said more information about vaccine expansions will be provided during a Wednesday afternoon news briefing.

Indianapolis to use $13M from city coffers for virus relief

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis will tap nearly $13 million in city funds to provide rental assistance, housing for the homeless and other pandemic relief efforts intended to aid vulnerable residents.

The Indianapolis City-County Council voted 23-0 Monday night to direct $12.9 million from the city’s general fund to the relief efforts as city officials await possible additional federal funding.

Indiana’s capital has already spent the $168 million it received last year under the $1.8 trillion CARES Act approved last March by Congress. That funding went toward food and rental assistance, combatting homelessness and aid for local businesses, among other uses.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement that even though Indianapolis residents have begun receiving the coronavirus vaccine, “the effects of COVID-19 continue to threaten far too many in our city.”

“This allocation will help extend existing programs and serve as a bridge until we receive additional federal funds that can more meaningfully address the scope of challenges Indianapolis families are facing,” he said in a statement before the council approved the spending.

The city’s funding includes $6 million for rental assistance, $2 million for non-congregate shelter for high-risk homeless residents, $1.9 million for coronavirus contact tracing efforts and $300,000 for food assistance.

Southern Indiana officer arrested for battery, misconduct

COLUMBUS — A southern Indiana police officer was arrested Tuesday on felony battery and official misconduct charges for allegedly slugging a handcuffed suspect in the rear of a patrol vehicle, Indiana State Police said.

Officer John Velten, a 14-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, was arrested when he turned himself in to detectives at the Bartholomew County Jail, state police said.

Veltren last June 16 arrested a man after responding to a fight, police said. While handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle, the suspect began hitting his head against the interior of the police vehicle. Veltren struck the suspect with his fist while the suspect was still handcuffed inside of the vehicle.

The suspect suffered moderate injuries, police said.

After an investigation by Indiana State Police detectives, the cased was turned over to a special prosecutor.

Velten has remained employed with the city of Columbus in a non-law enforcement -related capacity since the investigation began, police said.

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