The Wider World

Omicron is now chief variant

THE OMICRON variant is the cause of most new cases of coronavirus (Shutterstock).

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now by far the leading version of the disease.

According to the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that it accounted for 73 percent of new cases recorded in the previous week.

Centers of the Omicron’s greatest presence are in the New York area, the Southeast, industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest reports the AP.

The variant, first identified in November in South Africa, has now spread to at least 90 nations, according to The New York Times. Rather than moving toward shutdowns and school closings, public health officials are emphasizing vaccinations, booster shots and the wearing of facemasks as appropriate measures.

U.S. urges Russia to de-escalate

The United States is urging the Russian Federation to ease tensions by pulling back some of its troops gathered on the border with Ukraine. According to United Press International, Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser suggested to a Russian security adviser that the situation be handled through diplomacy.

The Russians are reportedly demanding that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – led by the U.S – promise not to admit Ukraine, a former part of the old Soviet Union – into its collective security pact.

Sports: NHL is taking a season “pause”

The National Hockey League will put its season “on hold” during the Dec. 23-25 period and resume on Dec. 26, it was announced on Tuesday. The pause is in response to the postponement of several games in reaction to a rise in COVID-19 cases among players.

  • Three Pac-12 men’s basketball teams are in the top 10 of this week’s AP Top 25. Baylor (10-0) is first, but UCLA (9-1) is fifth, Arizona (11-0) is sixth and USC (12-0) is eighth.
  • In women’s college basketball, South Carolina (11-0) is first. The Pac-12 teams in the AP Top 25 are Stanford (8-2) in second and Arizona (10-0) in fourth.

Weather: Winter a day early

It’s not technically winter yet, but what passes for the cold season in West Orange County has arrived with daytime temps in the 60s. Tuesday is forecast for a high of 68 (overnight low of 46) with morning clouds giving way to afternoon sun. Things get colder from there, with a Wednesday high of 65 (53) under clouds, followed by rain on Thursday with a daytime high of 61 (52).

Finance: Wall Street lands right-side up

The stock had an up-and-down day on Monday, but closed the day in the black. After a morning in which all three major indexes showed losses, late rallies were staged which ended up in positive territory. The S&P 500 rose 46.25 to 4,584.75. The Dow climbed 184 points to 34,997 and the Nasdaq grew by 131.25 points to 15,752.50.

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