(CNN) — In the fight against COVID-19, the US government is enlisting pharmacies to administer vaccines to hundreds of millions of Americans — an endeavor with unprecedented scale that presents a host of challenges for companies big and small across the United States.
Although some companies are ready to store and administer the COVID-19 vaccine, others aren’t.
Several companies are working on vaccines, each with its own particular storage and logistical challenges, and this is new territory for pharmacies, particularly when it comes to storing the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold freezers.Drug stores, grocery stores and retailers are sorting through logistics, making space for the vaccines and buying special freezers in preparation.
Vaccines from some of the companies — such as AstraZeneca and Moderna — only require standard refrigeration, to which many pharmacies already have access. But pharmaciesmust have ultra-cold storage units if they store and administer the Pfizer vaccine that requires an environment of -70°C.
The special storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine notwithstanding, grocery stores with pharmacies could have a leg up over traditional drug stores and independent pharmacies, because they already have storage space for the vaccines that only require standard refrigeration.
“Grocery stores will help support a more rapid rollout of a national vaccination program,” David Bishop, partner and analyst at retail and grocery consulting firm Brick Meets Click, told CNN Business. This is simply a function of capacity in grocery stores, Bishop said. Many of the grocers that already operate pharmacies have “much larger and existing storage areas, whether we’re talking in the backroom or on the sales floor,” he said.
But the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to pharmacies across the United States, and grocery stores and drug stores “absolutely are starting from scratch” when it comes to purchasing and using ultra-cold freezer units, said Gary Bissig, the vice president of LabRepCo, a firm that specializes in research appliances for the pharmaceutical industry.
The Pfizer vaccine will arrive in thermal shippers that can be used as temporary storage units when filled with dry ice. The vials last in those conditionsfor 15 days, according to a Pfizer statement, making it a good option for quick turnaround but not for long-term vaccine storage, which will likely be common.According to Pfizer’s instructions, the boxes can be opened only twice a day, and each time for no more than a minute.
The vaccine can also be stored at 2°C to 8°C in refrigeration units that are commonly available in hospitals, the company said, but the vials can only last in those conditions for five days.
Ultra-low-temperature freezers extend the vaccine’s shelf life for up to six months and could be useful in locations where clinicians feel that they might not move through the vaccine quickly.
Pharmacies have been administering flu vaccines and pneumococcal vaccines for many years now, but about 99% of pharmacies in the United Statesdo not have access to a -80°C freezer, Bissig said.
Bissig added that the ultra-cold storage units are traditionally purchased by “major hospitals” and “huge medical colleges” that use the freezers for research. “The application of this freezer is traditionally for drug discovery,” he highlighted. “It’s not for drug distribution.”
LabRepCo started building small -80°C units for small pharmacies and clinics as soon as it heard about the storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine.
“Ultra-cold freezers will be an essential part of [Walgreens’] plan,” a Walgreens spokesperson told CNN. “We are exploring leveraging a combination of these ultra-cold freezers and dry ice storage solutions to support these medicines.”
CVS, however, is planning on using the Pfizer shipper containers instead of buying its own ultra-cold storage units. “We’d replenish the dry ice every five days for a total of 15 days,” a CVS spokesperson told CNN Business. The vials are then able to be refrigerated for an additional five. “Every dose would be utilized within that window,” the spokesperson said.
“We started to make them as fast as we could, but it wasn’t enough,” Bissig said. “These factories can’t grow to twice their normal size. All they can do is add more people and try to get more raw materials and supplies, and they’re doing the best they can.”
“The entire global demand for these products has swelled to an unsustainable level at this point,” he said.
Grocery store pharmacies are preparing, too, but many grocers’ plans for ultra-cold storage unit purchases are contingent upon when specific vaccines get authorized. If Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized first, stores will focus on acquiring and using ultra-cold storage.
“Supermarket pharmacies are well positioned to administer COVID-19 vaccines in a safe, convenient location when they are available,” Heather Garlich, VP at FMI, a trade group for food marketing, food retailers and wholesalers, told CNN Business. The group is currently in touch with large refrigeration providers in case there is a need for refrigeration beyond existing capacity.
Storage isn’t the only problem. Managing potentially long lines at stores is another obstacle that pharmacies will likely have to overcome.
Some clinics are already testing out vaccine administrationstrategies with the flu vaccine while the pharmaceutical industry awaits US Food and Drug Administration approval. Brian Tanquilut, a healthcare stock analyst at Jeffries, highlighted a pilot program at a drive-thru clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana. He said the clinic is testing out drive-thru flu vaccinations to prepare for rolling out a drive-thru strategy for state-administered COVID-19 vaccines.
Similar to CVS’ COVID-19 testing operation, vaccines will be available to CVS customers by appointment only, and they can be booked through the CVS website or app.
“Think of it like a roundtrip ticket — you’ll book both doses at the same time, with a healthy number of reminders (texts, calls, etc.) before the first and second shot,” a CVS spokesperson told CNN Business. There will also be a dedicated 800 number for customers who don’t have online access.
Grocery chain Albertsons is also preparing for the vaccine. The company said once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, recipients will be able to fill out vaccine consent forms in the Albertsons pharmacy apps, reducing the amount of time spent at the pharmacy.
Which pharmacies will have the vaccine?
The US Department of Health and Human Services released a list of pharmacies that agreed to provide the vaccine when it’s available to the public. The list includes Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Publix, Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie, among others.
The government has essentially “put agreements in place with these retailers to make sure they can run vaccines through them,” said Tanquilut. It’s now up to those companies to figure out — in consultation with the government — which specific locations will administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
Even with high demand, some Walgreens and CVS locations won’t be administering the vaccine, Tanquilut said. He emphasized that not all CVS and Walgreens locations are doing COVID testing and the vaccination offerings will likely mirror that.
“It’s going to be selected, larger locations that are going to have those capabilities,” he added.
As for delivery, “it’s up to the government to figure out delivery because this is a highly allocated product,” Tanquilut said.
As it stands now, May is likely the soonest target for vaccinations for the general public. But it could happen in June or later, depending on what the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decides, what vaccine supply looks like and how smoothly distribution is going. Health care workers, nursing home residents, high-risk adults and essential workers are expected to have access to the vaccine starting in December.
CVS and Walgreens are preparing to be among the first to administer the COVID-19 shots in the United States, if the FDA authorizes emergency use. But those vaccinations would take place in long-term care facilities, not in retail stores, according to CVS and Walgreens.CVS pharmacists will be traveling to the facilities, similar to how they operate on-site seasonal flu clinics, the company said in an email to CNN Business.
Spokespeople for Kroger, Publix, Albertsons, Wegmans and Gristedes were not able to share details about purchasing ultra-cold storage units.
— CNN’s Naomi Thomas and Maggie Fox contributed to this report
- Indiana State Department of Health coronavirus information (includes phone number to state hotline)
- WISH-TV coronavirus coverage
- WISH-TV’s “Gr8 Comeback”
- Original Indiana Back on Track plan
- Revised Stage 3 of Indiana Back on Track plan (May 12-June 13)
- Revised Stage 4 of Indiana Back on Track plan (June 12-July 3)
- Governor’s order, July 1: Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Aug. 26: Extension of Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Sept. 24: Revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Indianapolis government’s COVID-19 Community Resources
- Gleaners Food Bank distribution sites in Indianapolis area, south central Indiana
- Second Harvest of East Central Indiana “tailgate” food distribution sites
- Food Finders distribution sites in west and north central Indiana
- Coronavirus COVID-19 global cases map from John Hopkins University
- CDC’s coronavirus page
- Marion County Public Health Department coronavirus information
- U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
- Indiana PPE Directory (for businesses, nonprofits and schools only)
Indiana coronavirus timeline
With information from the Indiana Department of Health through Jan. 14, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.
- March 6, 2020: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
- March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. An adult in Hendricks County who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools say a parent and that parent’s children will be self-quarantining after attending an out-of-state event where someone else tested positive.
- March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
- March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
- March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
- March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled.
- March 13: The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Gov. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
- March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
- March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
- March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
- March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Indiana’s Catholic bishops cancel masses indefinitely. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
- March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
- March 19: Gov. Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools. Standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament was canceled. The Marion County Emergency Operations Center upgrades to Level 1 status.
- March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Gov. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
- March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
- March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 19. ISDH announces seven deaths.
- March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 24. Holcomb orders Hoosiers deemed nonessential to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
- March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 29. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
- March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 35. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23.
- March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 44.
- March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 47.
- March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
- March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 76.
- March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91.
- March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Gov. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6. Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, asked about when Indiana will be in a surge of COVID-19 cases, says she thinks the surge is starting.
- April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees.
- April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
- April 3: Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The state receives a federal Major Disaster Declaration for all 92 counties. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
- April 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 200.
- April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
- April 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 300. Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
- April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
- April 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 400.
- April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
- April 16: Indiana records more than 10,000 positive coronavirus tests. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
- April 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 600. The governor says that he will extend the “stay at home” order through May 1.
- April 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 700. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says, if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
- April 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 800. The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
- April 24: Indiana’s death toll rises above 900. The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department with a plan to test every resident.
- April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
- April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
- April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
- April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
- April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
- May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the stay-at-home order to May 4.
- May 3: Indiana records more than 20,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
- May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June.
- May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
- May 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,500.
- May 13: The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
- May 15: Simon Property Group reopens Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall, and Fashion Mall at Keystone
- May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people had tested positive there.
- May 21: Indiana records more than 30,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
- May 27: Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
- May 28: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,000.
- May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
- June 1: Marion County restaurants begins serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools reopen with 50% capacity and no contact sports. However, a Marion County curfew that began the night of May 31 and continued into the morning of June 3 after rioting impacted the reopening of some businesses.
- June 3: Phase 2 of statewide testing of random Hoosiers by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Indiana State Department of Health begins.
- June 5: Indiana reports May tax revenues were 20% short of projections made before the coronavirus closings started.
- June 8: Indianapolis leaders agree to spend $79 million in coronavirus relief funding on contact tracing, rent relief, personal protective equipment and support for small businesses.
- June 12: Indiana, excluding Marion County, advances to Stage 4 of reopening plan.
- June 15: Casinos and parimutuel racing reopen in the state. Marion County’s public libraries begin a phased reopening.
- June 19: Marion County advances to Stage 4 of state’s reopening plan.
- June 24: The governor says the state’s moratorium on the eviction on renters will be extended through July. Indiana announces it will create a rental assistance program July 13. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
- June 27: Indiana hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to increase, with about 33 new patients a day through July 1.
- July 1: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,500. The governor pauses Stage 5 final reopening plan, announces Stage 4.5 from July 4-17.
- July 4: Indiana’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan begins.
- July 9: Indiana records more than 50,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County mandates mask-wearing.
- July 10: Indianapolis Public Schools announces its reopening plans.
- July 11: Indy Eleven resumes 2020 season with victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis reopens.
- July 13: Indiana begins rental assistance program for all counties but Marion County. Marion County begins its own rental assistance program.
- July 15: Indiana announces the Stage 4.5 reopening plan will continue another two weeks. The WNBA season begins.
- July 16: Indianapolis suspends applications for its rental assistance program due to overwhelming demand.
- July 24: Bars, taverns and nightclubs in Indianapolis are shut down again. City officials also return to other previous restrictions.
- July 25: Indiana Fever begins WNBA season after delays.
- July 27: Indiana governor’s order to wear face coverings begins. Great Lakes Valley Conference, which including University of Indianapolis, postpones most fall sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball, until spring.
- July 30: NBA season resumes.
- Aug. 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500 will be run without fans.
- Aug. 5: With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana jumps to a total of 70,993 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 10: Indiana records more than 75,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 17: Indianapolis Public Schools restarts with online-only classes. News 8 learns the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will not happen on Presidents Day weekend in 2021.
- Aug. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,000. Purdue University suspends 36 students after a party at a co-op.
- Aug. 21: Indiana high school football season begins with some teams not playing due to COVID-19 concerns.
- Aug. 23: Butler University tells undergraduates that instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, starting Aug. 24, instead of in classrooms.
- Aug. 24: Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI and Ball State universities resume in-person classes.
- Aug. 25: Reports say a fraternity, a sorority and a cooperative house at Purdue University are under quarantines.
- Aug. 26: Gov. Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Sept. 25. Indiana’s rental assistance program will take applications for one last day.
- Aug. 27: Indiana University says eight Greek houses are under 14-day quarantines.
- Sept. 2: Indiana University tells 30 Greek houses in Bloomington to quarantine.
- Sept. 6: Indiana records more than 100,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 8: Marion County allows bars and nightclubs to reopen with 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
- Sept. 12: The Indianapolis Colts open their season with a loss in a Jacksonville stadium with a limited number of fans.
- Sept. 21: The Indianapolis Colts home opener is limited to 2,500 fans.
- Sept. 23: Gov. Eric Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Oct. 17.
- Sept. 24: The state’s mask mandate is extended through Oct. 17.
- Sept. 25: The Mid-American Conference announces it will start a six-game football season Nov. 4, with the championship game Dec. 18 or 19.
- Sept. 26: Indiana advances to a revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan with relaxed limits on gatherings, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more. Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties decided to have more restrictive limits, however.
- Sept. 27: The Indianapolis Colts second home game is limited to 7,500 fans.
- Sept. 28: Purdue University says it’s suspended 14 students, including 13 student-athletes, for violations of a pledge designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic on campus.
- Sept. 30: The Indiana State Department of Health’s online coronavirus dashboard began showing data on positive coronavirus cases in Indiana schools.
- Oct. 1: IU’s website shows two additional fraternities and a sorority at the Bloomington campus have been issued “cease and desist” orders.
- Oct. 2: Franklin College suspends classes and moves to virtual education and activities through Oct. 9 after a “concerning and unusual” increase in the positivity rate for COVID-19.
- Oct. 3: Indiana records more than 125,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Oct. 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,500.
- Oct. 12: Franklin College returns to in-person classes.
- Oct. 13: Indianapolis-based drugmaker Lilly pauses its trial of a combination antibody treatment for coronavirus for safety reasons.
- Oct. 14: Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announces she has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Oct. 15: Gov. Holcomb issues executive order to extend mask mandate and Stage 5 reopening plan.
- Oct. 18: The Indianapolis Colts third home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
- Oct. 19: Indiana records more than 150,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Oct. 23: The Big Ten begins its football season.
- Oct. 26: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,000.
- Oct. 29: Indiana records more than 175,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Oct. 30: Gov. Holcomb extends the public health emergency through Dec. 1.
- Nov. 1: Indiana National Guard to begin deploying to long-term care facilities to provide coronavirus assistance.
- The Mid-American Conference football teams begins its six-game regular season.
- Nov. 5: Indiana records more than 200,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 8: The Indianapolis Colts fourth home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
- Nov. 9: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,500.
- Nov. 12: Indianapolis calls for schools to go to virtual learning by Nov. 30.
- Nov. 14: Indiana records more than 251,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 15: Indiana adds coronavirus-control restrictions for all businesses and gatherings in counties with the highest number of new cases as part of an update to the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Nov. 16: Indianapolis limits capacity inside bars, private clubs, fraternal organizations and gyms to 25%; inside restaurants, libraries, funeral homes, swimming pools and shopping malls’ food courts to 50%; and inside religious services to 75%. Marion County Health Department requires preregistration for COVID-19 testing after increased demand at three drive-thru locations.
- Nov. 18: Indiana records more than 275,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 5,000.
- Nov. 22: Indiana records more than 300,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 23: Indianapolis Public Schools returns to virtual learning through Jan. 18.
- Nov. 24: The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball seasons begin; some games had no fans in the stands.
- Nov. 26: Butler University men’s basketball cancels Nov. 29 game against Eastern Illinois after a positive COVID-19 test.
- Nov. 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 5,500.
- Nov. 28: Butler University men’s basketball team postponed two more games because of a positive COVID-19 test.
- Dec. 1: Indiana records more than 350,000 positive coronavirus tests. Bankers Life Fieldhouse hosts its first NCAA men’s basketball game, Kansas vs. Kentucky, since the start of the pandemic.
- Dec. 2: Indianapolis ends its rental assistance program.
- Dec. 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,000.
- Dec. 5: The men’s basketball game of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2, Baylor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is postponed 90 minutes before tipoff after two Bulldogs test positive.
- Dec. 9: Indiana records more than 404,000 positive coronavirus tests. Gov. Holcomb says virus restrictions will now by county based on ratings that show the local virus spread. Indiana and Purdue universities cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game set for Dec. 12.
- Dec. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,500. Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston tested positive for COVID-19.
- Dec. 11: The Pacers lose to the Cavaliers as the NBA preseason begins. The Carmel Walmart in Westfield closes for nearly two days to sanitize the store.
- Dec. 12: Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns tests positive for the coronavirus.
- Dec. 14: Health care workers receive the first coronavirus vaccinations in Indiana.
- Dec. 15: Vice President Mike Pence holds a roundtable in Bloomington at pharmaceutical maker Catalent on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Indiana and Purdue again cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game that’d been reset for Dec. 18.
- Dec. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,000.
- Dec. 17: Indiana records more than 452,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Dec. 20: The Indianapolis Colts allows up to 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Houston Texans.
- Dec. 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,500. Indiana records more than 476,000 positive coronavirus tests. NBA starts league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened to a 72-game schedule because of the pandemic.
- Dec. 23: In response to the high volume of unemployment claims, Holcomb extends the suspension of certain requirements to expedite the hiring and training of temporary workers to more quickly resolve unemployment issues. Indiana Pacers to host first home game against New York Knicks with no fans present.
- Dec. 28: Indiana records more than 500,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Dec. 30: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,000.
- Dec. 31: Indiana’s death toll for 2020 is 8,158.
- Jan. 1, 2021: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,200.
- Jan. 2: Indiana records more than 526,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 3: The Indianapolis Colts allow 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Jan. 4: Grades 1-12 schools in Marion County are allowed reopen to in-person learning. Perry Township Schools is the only district to reopen to in-person learning.
- Jan. 5: Indiana records more than 539,000 positive coronavirus tests. Purdue and Nebraska postpone a men’s basketball game over health and safety concerns.
- Jan. 6: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,500.
- Jan. 7: Indiana records more than 552,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 8: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,600. Indiana records more than 558,000 positive coronavirus tests. Hoosiers 80 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
- Jan. 9: Indiana records more than 563,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,700. Indiana records more than 567,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 11: Indiana records more than 570,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 12: Indiana records more than 574,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 13: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,800. Indiana records more than 578,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 14: Indiana records more than 583,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Jan. 24: Holcomb’s emergency declaration and mask mandate set to end. Indiana Pacers will have about 1,000 fans at a game for first time since pandemic began.
- Feb. 28: Indiana National Guardsmen to end assistance to long-term care facilities.
- March 16: NCAA men’s March Madness games, all of them at venues in Indianapolis, Bloomington and West Lafayette, to start.