The Wider World

Omicron is fueling worries

THE OMICRON variant is emerging from areas were the vast majority of people have not been vaccinated (Shutterstock).

Concern about possible effects of the omicron variant of the coronavirus kept COVID-19 in the news on Monday. Here are developments related to the latest twist in the pandemic:

  • Pfizer is planning to apply for a booster shot of vaccine for 16-and-17-year olds and approval by the Food and Drug Administration could come this week, according to The New York Times
  • A federal judge in Missouri issued a temporary order blocking a federal mandate for health workers in 10 states that filed a lawsuit against the requirement that anyone working in a medical facility certified for Medicare and Medicaid be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
  • The global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” warned the World Health Organization on Monday. Nations around the world are restricting travel to and from places where the variant – considered perhaps more easily transmissible than earlier mutations – has appeared. The Associated Press is reporting that Japan and Israel have now moved to deny all entry from foreign visitors.

There have been no deaths reported from omicron, but some nations are anxious to head off a surge after much progress has been made in returning to “normal” in business and daily living. The outbreaks have emerged most strongly from areas where relatively few people have been vaccinated.

  • President Joe Biden on Monday said that the omicron is a “cause for concern, but not a cause for panic,” according to United Press International. Current vaccines appear to be adequate protection against the variant, he said, and urged more people to get vaccinated.

Sports: Bruins tumble to number five

After a humbling loss to Gonzaga, the UCLA men’s basketball team fell from the number two spot in the AP Men’s College Basketball Top 25 released Monday. Gonzaga, after suffering its first loss of the season, also skidded, going from first to third.

Here’s the top 10: Duke (7-0) is first, Purdue (6-0) is second, Gonzaga (6-1) is third, Baylor (7-0) is fourth and UCLA (6-1) is fifth. In sixth is Villanova (4-2), followed by seventh place Texas (4-1), eighth place Kansas (5-1), ninth place Kentucky (5-1) and 10th place Arkansas (6-0).

Weather: Warmer, then cooler

Temperatures in the West Orange County area will warm slightly, then cool a bit later in the week. The forecast for Tuesday is for a high of 75 (52 overnight) rising to 77 (55) on Wednesday before dropping to 70 (50) on Thursday. In coastal Huntington Beach, daily highs will be 69 on Tuesday and Wednesday before dipping to 68 on Thursday.

Stocks: Wall Street rebounds as fears ease

Encouraged by President Joe Biden’s remarks that the omicron variant of the coronavirus was “not a cause for panic,” all three major stock indexes bounced back on Monday.

The S&P 500 gained 60.65 points (1.32 percent) to close at 4,655.27. The Dow Jones Industrials rose 236.60 points (0.68 percent) to 35,135.94 and the Nasdaq climbed 291.18 points (1.88 percent) to 15,782.83.

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