The Wider World

Omicron’s impact is expanding

THE OMICRON variant is leading to a surge in new cases as well as vaccinations (Shutterstock).

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is giving the U.S. and other nations an unwelcome holiday “present.” Blamed for a surge in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, the mutated virus is prompting some frantic reactions in response.

Reuters is reporting that some universities are cancelling classes, sports leagues are buffeted by a rising number of players and coaches who test positive, and a rush to get tested.  Face-mask mandates in indoor settings are now required in California and New York state.

The latest tally indicates that – on an average of the last seven days – there’s an average of 122,000 new cases per day. That compares to 219,000 daily infections one year ago.

Oil company charged in oil spill

A federal grand jury on Wednesday has indicted an oil company and two of its subsidiaries with a misdemeanor charge connected to the Oct. 1 oil spill off the Huntington Beach shoreline that led to the temporary closures from Seal Beach to Laguna  Beach.

AERIAL VIEW of oil spill near Huntington Beach Pier.Laguna Beach.

The Associated Press is reporting that Amplify Energy Corp. and two other firms face five years of probation plus fines that could total in the millions. The charges are based on the response to the leak of a pipeline that was not shut down for hours until an alarm was sounded.

The spills impact included not just the cost of cleanup but also the effect on local businesses depended on visitors to the beaches and another attractions of the shorelines. It also led to calls for a ban on offshore drilling in California.

Also in the news

  • Tornado season isn’t over yet. The central part of the U.S. is being lashed by thunderstorms and tornadoes. A high wind warning has been issued for an area stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan.
  • President Joe Biden visited Kentucky and promised the federal government would pay 100 percent of the emergency work done in the state for the first 30 days. The state suffered most of the damage caused by a series of twisters. As many as 100 people may have died.

Sports: Breakthrough cases breaking lineups

All across the National Football League, vaccinated players are testing positive for the coronavirus and are being scratched for game day. According to USA Today, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski also tested as having been infected and must produce two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to return to the lineup and sidelines. The Browns are scheduled to host the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. If Mayfield is unable to play, former Ram Case Keenum will play the quarterback position.

Weather: Cool but mostly sunny

The West Orange County area is in for what might seem to be a contradiction in some areas of the U.S.: sunny skies and cool weather. The forecast for Thursday is for a high of 61 with an overnight low of 48 with mostly cloudy conditions. However, the sun will come out Friday through Sunday with temperatures in the mid to high 60s. Cloudy weather will return on Monday and we could face a rainy Christmas.

Finance: Fed’s decision spurs Wall Street

A decision to leave interest rates unchanged – for the time being – was good enough news for the stock markets to return to an earlier pattern of daily gains. The S&P 500 climbed 75.76 points to 4,709.75, while the Dow rose by 383.25 points to 35,927.43. Nasdaq also had a good day with a gain of 327.94 points to 15,565.58.

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