Andrew Lamparski

The Second Dose: What happens now that some students are fully vaccinated?

As students walked out of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday afternoon, they carried with them an “Every shot counts” pin and a sense of relief. They had just received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

SUMMER PLANS

A sign pointing to a vaccine entrance appears April 27 outside of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. By Mallorey Daunhauer

Vacations, trips to the bars and comfortably spending time with friends and family are some of the activities on students’ post-vaccine bucket lists.  

IU sophomore Macy Brammer hasn’t been able to spend much time with her grandmother recently because of a heart condition. She said her grandmother’s health has been a major concern of her family’s since the pandemic began.

“I am definitely looking forward to seeing her and feeling really safe about it,” Brammer said.

At the end of May, IU sophomore Alexander Mattingly is planning to get a seat in the stands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500—a family tradition with his dad and brother that was derailed by COVID-19 capacity limitations at last summer’s race.

IU sophomore Jordan Kaseff talks about how she is excited to hug her grandma because she received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

IU sophomore Jordan Kaseff is excited for her summer trip to Israel, but she also just wants to hug her grandmother. Since the pandemic began, she’s only been able to see her outdoors, masked and socially distanced. She’s driving home on Friday to have dinner with her.

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SIDE EFFECTS

Mattingly left the famous basketball venue swinging his left arm around like a windmill.

“I read online that moving your arm after the shot helps to lessen the pain,” Mattingly said. “I don’t know, we’ll see if it works.”

IU Sophomore Alexander Mattingly talks about why he was excited to receive the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

A few days later, Mattingly said the side effects after his second dose weren’t bad. He had a fever on Friday but didn’t experience any more symptoms for the rest of the weekend.

Mild side effects have affected millions of people after receiving the vaccine, with the second dose typically bringing more intense effects than the first.

Some common side effects include pain and redness at the site of the injection, as well as tiredness, headache, fever and muscle pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The fear of the potential side effects didn’t scare students like Brammer away. For her, the benefits far outweighed any potential consequences.

 “I never would have thought, ‘Oh I’m too afraid of the symptoms, I’m not gonna get it,’” Brammer said. “I had no hesitation.”

IU sophomore Macy Brammer said she feels lucky to have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

LIFE AFTER THE VACCINE

 Sixty-eight weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States, the U.S. is finally starting to see some signals that life could become a little more normal in the coming months.

 In February, IU announced plans to return to in-person learning in the fall. The CDC announced last week that it’s safe for vaccinated individuals to be maskless outdoors in small groups.

IU sophomore Jane Wright talks about how she is excited at the possibility of returning to normalcy as a result of her and other people getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, nearly two million people have been fully vaccinated in Indiana. More than two million more have received their first dose.

It’s not exactly clear how many vaccines it will take to reach herd immunity, which comes at the point that enough people are immune to the virus that the population is protected, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Lana Dbeibo, IU Medical Response Team member and director of vaccine initiatives for the university, says experts only have estimates of when herd immunity will be reached. Those estimates range from having 60 to 90% of the population fully vaccinated.

“This is all very complex science and it’s all very hypothetical until we actually vaccinate that much of the population,” Dbeibo said.

Dr. Lana Dbeibo, an IU Medical Response Team member and director of vaccine initiatives for the university, talks about steps people should take if they are afraid to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

There is still a long list of unanswered questions about when and how the pandemic will  come to an end. Regardless, people continue to look forward to the small rewards that come with vaccination, like a new pin or a hug from their grandma.

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Q&A: WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

As vaccinated students make their summer plans, questions about next steps after immunity still remain. 

Dbeibo is responsible for providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for the IU community, as well as overseeing the university’s vaccine policies and regulations.

We asked her some of our biggest questions about the vaccine. 

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Click to view full page. (Graphic by Andrew Lamparski)

April Fools!: People are less excited about April 1 during a pandemic

Over 365 days after the first COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States began, April Fool’s Day is getting less of a laugh.

A day typically marked with bad practical jokes just isn’t as funny when it’s the second time it’s come around since the pandemic began.

IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE THIS YEAR

Neon sign zero likes
Some social media users are less than thrilled about April Fool’s Day this year. (Photo: Unsplash)

“do NOT joke about having covid on April Fool’s Day,” one Twitter user wrote.

“I hate April Fools because I just do not trust anyone and anything for an entire day,” another user wrote.

Even Google, a company known for putting together some strange April Fool’s Day pranks, is taking its second year off of the holiday because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Business Insider.

I guess we won’t be getting another Google Gnome this year…

HOW DID APRIL FOOL’S DAY START?

YouTube user jeremiahjw provides a brief explanation of the holiday’s history.

According to History.com, April Fool’s Day is far from being a new concept. It’s been around for centuries.

While it’s not clear exactly when or how it got its start, there is a lot of speculation that it started in France in the 16th Century.

France switched to the Gregorian calendar, moving the start of each new year back from April to January–making those slow to the change “fools”.

GETTING PRANKED BY BRANDS

(Photo: Unsplash)

Google isn’t the only one that usually has tricks up its sleeves.

Taco Bell once tried to convince us that they were renaming the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia the “Taco Liberty Bell”.

Burger King ran a full-page ad advertising their new “Left-handed Whopper”.

Even NPR gets in on the joke once in a while–running fake stories on April 1. They once tried to convince people that Richard Nixon was going to run for president again...

All of those April 1 marketing campaigns have slowed down the past two years though. The question is will they ever make a comeback?

It might be a day designed for jokes, but unfortunately the pandemic is not one of them.

Bittersweet purpose: COVID-19 makes it harder for Marisa Maines to say goodbye to ICAN dogs

IU junior Marisa Maines cries every time she drops off one of the dogs she trains though the Indiana Canine Assistant Network. The drop off on March 5 was especially taxing, though.  

Maines had taught Slane, the service dog in training, how to stay at her side while walking, sit properly and jump into a car without fear for the past nine weeks — three times the normal amount of time spent with a dog. 

ICAN campus connections co-director Marisa Maines Marisa Maines goes through commands with her dog CC on Tuesday at Switchyard Park. Photo by Mallorey Daunhauer

Now, it was time to return Slane to his trainer, who is an inmate at Indiana Women’s Prison. 

Maines lined up with the other ICAN volunteers in the parking lot of the prison and then watched as one-by-one the volunteers went up to a guard, handed them their dog’s leash and walked away crying. 

“Bye, handsome, go do good things,” she said to Slane before they walked up to the guard. “Be a good boy.” 

When she handed over the leash, Slane’s attention immediately shifted to the guard. Maines knew this meant she had trained the dog correctly, but it still hurt when he didn’t turn his head to see her walk away for the last time. 

BEGINNING IN ICAN

Maines explains her role in ICAN and how she started as a dog babysitter.

Maines, ICAN at Indiana University’s campus connections co-director, has been involved in ICAN since first semester of her freshman year. She said she fell in love with the organization at the callout meeting where she saw a golden retriever puppy and heard how the organization operated

ICAN campus connections co-director Marisa Maines trains her dog CC on Tuesday at Switchyard Park. Photo by Mallorey Daunhauer

In ICAN, dogs are first trained by inmate handlers and then volunteers, such as Maines, teach the dogs how to carry out the cues taught by handlers in the real world, where there are more distractions. Then, the dogs are returned to the inmates to complete training before the at least two-year-old dog is given to a client with a disability.

After the callout meeting, Maines signed up to be a part of the volunteer relief team. In this position, she helped out furlough volunteers, which are people taking care of dogs full time, by picking a dog up if the furlougher couldn’t bring them into a certain building or class. 

WORKING WITH THE DOGS

Maines practices commands with her current ICAN dog, CC.

Second semester sophomore year, she signed up to be a furlough volunteer. In this position, Maines is given a dog and has to house it and reinforce its training for typically three to four weeks. During this time, she has to bring the dog with her almost everywhere and work out certain trouble areas.

ICAN campus connections co-director Marisa Maines goes through commands with her dog CC on Tuesday at Switchyard Park. Photo by Mallorey Daunhauer

Chloe Kenney, ICAN at IU co-furlough coordinator, said some of these issues include being very excited by other dogs, wanting to sniff the grass and not staying by the person holding the leash’s side. Maines said every time she is out with a dog and they do not stay by her side, she has to stop walking until they reposition. This process can turn five-minute walks into 30-minute ones, she said. 

“Sometimes you’re late to class,” she said. “There is no rushing around when you have an ICAN dog.” 

Maines said when she makes her course schedule she leaves extra time in between classes because of how long these dog walks can be. 

EFFECTS OF COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maines and other furlough volunteer’s responsibilities have changed and increased. ICAN at IU secretary Megan Waters said because many IU student volunteers do not have in-person courses, they have to be more intentional about training the dogs. 

Because IU’s campus has so many distractions, such as busses, squirrels and people, walking around with a dog through a day of in-person classes made up a lot of their training and exercise. But this year, Waters and Maines have had to go out of their way to successfully train the dogs, doing activities such as more playdates with other ICAN dogs and completing about three 10-minute practice sessions after a day of online classes. 

The ICAN dogs were removed from the facility in May 2020 and in September 2020 the building was shut down for visitors, meaning the dogs were placed with furlough volunteers for longer periods of time. 

In previous years, Maines would have had a dog for about three weeks before taking about a two-week break before furloughing another one. This year, she has had a dog every single week of both semesters. 

“It would just be weird if I didn’t have a dog at this point,” she said. 

HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

Maines talks about the challenges of developing bonds with the dogs and then having to leave them.

Maines took care of her last dog, Slane, for nine weeks. One ICAN volunteer was taking care of one dog for 10 months, she said. 

This extended time has made it harder to say goodbye, when it was already difficult before. 

ICAN dog CC waits to receive a treat Tuesday at Switchyard Park. Photo by Mallorey Daunhauer

Maines has taken care of six dogs since she started volunteering for ICAN. Every time she drops them off, she feels a sense of pride and loss because, throughout the process of training them to be a life-saving animal, she grows an attachment to them. 

With Slane, this connection was even more prominent because he was in Maines’ care for so long. So, it was extremely difficult to hand over the leash and leave Slane. But, Maines knew she had to get home to her next service dog in training: CC.

Indianapolis hopes to use March Madness to rebound from COVID-19

As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament gets underway today, Indianapolis is gearing up for its time in the national spotlight.

The March Madness signage across the city is just one of many reminders that the city is taking the Indiana-exclusive tournament as an opportunity to get back on track after a year of struggle.

INDIANAPOLIS GAMES START FRIDAY

Before the tournament officially makes its way downtown tomorrow, the First Four games are taking place today at Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and Purdue’s Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

March Madness court
Signage for March Madness overlaid on a basketball court. (Credit: Fox59)

Tomorrow, the Indianapolis locations will open their doors to the NCAA tournament and thousands of fans.

The game locations include Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium.

BEAUTIFTYING THE CIRCLE CITY

In preparation for the big event, volunteers with Downtown Indy, Inc. spent Wednesday morning adding some finishing touches to making downtown as welcoming as possible to visitors.

Volunteers beautified trash cans and added lights in Monument Circle to keep downtown bright even after the games.

“Well, this is a magnanimous effort with hundreds and hundreds of people involved to kind of open our doors and welcome the community to Indianapolis not just for a weekend event for three solid weeks,” said Downtown Indy, Inc. Senior Vice President Bob Schultz.

The city is also using Indianapolis Artsgarden as a hub for the 2,000 members of the media anticipated to be in the city.

The media hub will host refreshments, Wi-Fi, live music and a look at the bracket itself.

Visit Indy and Indiana Sport Corporation were responsible for converting the Artsgarden.

A GOLD RUSH FOR BUSINESS

The increased traffic from fans, athletes and other visitors is also welcomed by local businesses, especially restaurants.

“It’s our responsibility to tall Indianapolis’ stories outside of the venues, the arts, the architecture, the cuisine, the nightlife,” said Visit Indy Senior Vice President Chris Gahl.

The city hopes the tournament will bring much-needed relief to downtown businesses. (Credit: Fox59)

NCAA tournament rules require a single team to order from a single restaurant, which is bringing massive orders to restaurants that have been struggling from the pandemic.

For those in the March Madness bubble, those orders are also contactless. The food is dropped off at specific locations for the teams and restaurant employees never come into contact with athletes.

Ultimately, the hope is that putting the spotlight on the city and its businesses will drive even more traffic beyond March.

“The sweet-sounding word ‘Indianapolis’ will be spoke hundreds of thousands of time and written even more so…and ultimately lead Indianapolis to be a city that recovers more quickly than any other city in this pandemic,” said Gahl.

The first game of the NCAA Tournament will be played today at 5:10 p.m. in Simon Sjkodt Assembly Hall.

Hoosiers over 50 now eligible for vaccine as health officials say not to wait

As the number of Hoosiers infected with COVID-19 continues to drop, the number of those eligible for the vaccine continues to grow.

New eligibility requirements
Patient receives vaccine
A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine (Credit: Unsplash)

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Monday that COVID-19 vaccine registration is now open to those age 50 and older. This announcement came just a single day after the age requirement was lowered to 55.

This new requirement means the governor himself, age 52, is now eligible for the vaccine.

“I will come this Friday to get my vaccination,” said Holcomb. “I do qualify now, and I want to be a good example on that front.”

Aside from age-based eligibility, vaccines are also available for those with certain medical conditions. This includes those undergoing cancer treatments or dialysis.

Health care officials urge vaccine registration

Doctors and other health officials are asking the public to trust the COVID vaccines and to not be hesitant.

They also urge people to not be picky about which vaccine they receive out of the three variants with emergency FDA approval. Instead, officials say people should just get the first vaccine available to them.

The governor said having any vaccines available already is something for which he’s grateful.

“Saturday marks a year-to-date from our first reported coronavirus case,” said Holcomb. “I count my lucky stars that we are having this conversation today about vaccinations, and we are not waiting 7 years for vaccine approval.”

How effective is the new vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine
A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine rests next to a needle. (Credit: Unsplash)

The recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now becoming available at vaccine distribution sites.

The J&J vaccine is only a one-shot dose, as opposed to the two-shot doses required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

One key difference in the new vaccine is its efficacy rate against moderate and severe COVID-19 cases. The J&J vaccine has shown to be 66 percent effective, while Pfizer and Moderna have efficacy rates in the 90s.

This disparity, doctors say, is because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was studied in several countries and with multiple COVID-19 variants which naturally lowered its efficacy rate.

Looking forward

Although the Biden administration has made calls for states to open vaccinations for teachers, the governor says Indiana will continue with its plan to vaccinate by age.

“We’re on the right path,” said Holcomb. “The thing that’s different right now is having vaccinations available to those at risk. Once we get through that, I’ll be a happy camper.”

This weekend, a mass vaccination site will be available in Indianapolis. The site will open Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and run through Sunday. Mass vaccination sites are one of the ways the state hopes to speed up the vaccination process.

“You under-promise and over-deliver,” said Holcomb. “We’re very methodical and cautiously optimistic.”

If you meet the current minimum vaccination requirements, you can register here.

Monroe County fire stations open doors to cold citizens

Eight Monroe County fire stations opened their doors to provide community members a space to warm up or take a break from the cold weather from Feb. 8-23. This service was specifically offered to citizens who lost heat in their home for a period of time, do not have enough heat in their home or do not have a home at all, said Allison Moore, Monroe County emergency management director. 

Cold weather and dire positions

Moore said she wanted to offer these warming stations from Feb. 8-23 because of the predicted low temperatures and snowfall that she saw forecasted weeks in advance. During these two weeks, Bloomington temperatures dropped to as low as 0 degrees, winds went as high as 30 mph and the city received about 1 foot of snow, according to The Weather Channel. 

Monroe County emergency management director Allison Moore discusses the City’s efforts to work with local organizations to provide resources during bad weather.

These conditions put some people in dire positions, Moore said. 

“If there was an individual that did not have a home, they would be at a risk for losing their life,” she said. “So, we want to make sure that we have things in place for people.” 

The Bloomington Fire Department Headquarters located on E. 4th Street serves as one of the Monroe County warming stations. The stations served as relief from the extreme cold. (Credit: Andrew Lamparski)
Warming station locations

The warming station locations were: 

  • Bloomington Fire Station 1 (Headquarters)
    • 300 E. 4th St., Bloomington
  • Bloomington Fire Station 2
    • 209 S. Fairfield Drive, Bloomington
  • Ellettsville Fire Department Headquarters
    • 5080 W. State Road 46, Ellettsville
  • Monroe Fire Protection District– Perry
    • 3953 S. Kennedy Drive, Bloomington
  • Monroe Fire Protection District– Clear Creek
    • 9094 S. Strain Ridge Road, Bloomington
  • Monroe Fire Protection District– Indian Creek
    • 8019 S. Rockport Road, Bloomington
  • Monroe Fire Protection District- Bloomington
    • 5081 N. Old State Road 37, Bloomington
  • Monroe Fire Protection District- Van Buren
    • 2130 S. Kirby Road, Bloomington
A map of the fire stations serving as warming stations in Bloomington and Ellettsville. Eight locations are available across Monroe County. (Click to enlarge)
Filling the gap in social services

The fire stations were open to provide short-term relief, Moore said. Food and overnight shelter were not provided to citizens using the stations. 

“A warming station is just for someone to arrive, at the location, get warm and proceed on their way,” she said. 

Monroe County emergency management director Allison Moore discusses the importance of providing resources for those in need during the winter months.

Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore said while local social service organizations provide daytime activities and nighttime shelters, there is some time during the day in between these two services during which people experiencing homelessness do not have a place to stay warm. Also, there are fewer indoor public spaces open and fewer daytime activities offered because of COVID-19 restrictions, he said. 

The sign for Bloomington Fire Stations 2 sits surrounded by snow on Feb. 19. Monroe County kept the warming stations open Feb. 8-23. (Credit: Andrew Lamparski)

“If where you slept at night, which is the nightime shelters, don’t have a 24-hour shelter option and then you cannot get into where the daytime activities are done, then you don’t have any place to go sometimes,” Moore said.

Moore said these warming stations, which have been provided for the past three years, fill this gap by providing heat and a safe space during the day. About five people stopped by in the past two weeks to warm up, get some water from a water fountain or use the restroom at the Bloomington fire station on 4th Street, he said. 

Kate Petroline, Monroe County emergency management deputy director, said fire stations were selected as the sites for the warming stations because they are in easily-accessible locations throughout Monroe County and there are people working at them 24/7. The buildings also have enough space for social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and have masks available for citizens who don’t have one, Moore said. 

The front door of the Bloomington Fire Department Headquarters sits behind a pile of snow on Feb. 19. Those without heat were able to stop in for temporary relief from freezing temperatures. (Credit: Andrew Lamparski)
Helping Monroe County residents

Petroline said these warming stations, and cooling stations during the summer, are offered every year.. It is important for the city to provide this service because of symptoms people can develop from being in really high or low temperatures, such as frostbite or overheating, she said.

“When you have such cold temperatures or such warm temperatures, it can cause people to really go through certain health concerns,” Petroline said. “We want that service, or availability, to be there for our citizens and to care for them in their time of need.” 

The basics of defamation: libel and slander

Making a false claim in a story could land a journalist in a world of trouble, not just in the public sphere, but also the legal one.

Britannica defines defamation as “an untrue statement presented as fact and intended to damage a person’s character or reputation.”

Libel vs. Slander 

There are two different types of defamation, libel and slander. To keep it simple, “libel” is a written defamatory statement. “Slander” is a spoken one.

For example, writing a book in which you falsely claim someone robbed a bank would be considered libel. If you were to tell your friend a made-up rumor about your neighbor having an affair, you would be committing slander.

To make all of this even clearer, take a look at this video for a satirical take on defamation law:

Proving Defamation

Claiming someone committed defamation and proving it are two different things. 

According to Nolo, a legal publisher, the burden of proof lies on the accuser in defamation cases. They have to prove four things–that the statement was published, false, unprivileged, and injured one’s reputation.

The Digital Media Law Project also explains that public figures, like politicians and celebrities, must also prove that the statement was made with “actual malice”. That means that a public figure must prove the statement was “knowingly false” or was published with a “reckless disregard for the truth.”

While journalists should do all they can to avoid becoming the defendant in a defamation case, there are a number of defenses to accusations of defamation. 

The best defense? Telling the truth.

As Cornell Law writes, “Truth is widely accepted as a complete defense to all defamation claims.” If what you wrote or said was true, you can’t be charged with defamation.