The Wider World

Omicron fast, but not strong?

OMICRON is shown to be fast-moving, but three studies have suggested it may not be as dangerous (Shutterstock).

You don’t hear much that qualifies as “good news” regarding the coronavirus pandemic, but here’s some: research is indicating that the Omicron variant tends to cause milder illness than strains that preceded it.

The New York Times is reporting that studies in South Africa, Scotland and England showed that while the Omicron was highly contagious, it was less likely to result in hospitalization.

A professor at UCLA suggested than in addition to getting vaccinations (and a booster), people could improve their chances of avoiding the bug altogether by gathering outside, opening windows and otherwise improving ventilation at home or work.

High court to meet on vaccine rules

U.S. SUPREME COURT building in Washington, D.C.

A special session of the U.S. Supreme Court will be held on Jan. 7 to hear arguments on whether requirements on vaccine or testing for big employers imposed by the federal government are constitutional.

According to the Associated Press, the high court will also consider a rule that requires health care workers at hospitals and other medical settings with Medicare or Medicaid clients get vaccinated. Such workers are required to get inoculated by Jan. 4.

Sports: No second chance in semifinals

What would happen if one of the four teams in the College Football Playoffs wasn’t able to field a team in the semifinals because of COVID-19 problems? The answer is simple: you forfeit and your opponent advances to the title game.

The CFP announced Wednesday that no makeups will be available for teams unable to play. On Dec. 31, Alabama (number one) will face Cincinnati (number four) in one semifinal game and Michigan (second) plays Georgia (third) in the other.

The title game is set for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

Weather: Finally, there’s some rain

A long-delayed stretch of rain is expected to hit West Orange County tonight and continue through Saturday at least. The forecast for Thursday is for a 98 percent chance of rain with a daytime high of 62 (with a low of 56). Friday will be similar with a high of 61 (52). The chance of rain is 96 percent. Saturday (Christmas) should bring showers and a high of 58 (47).

Finance: Stocks rally on consumer new

Wall Street spent most of Wednesday underwater, but stocks rallied to end up in positive territory after news about rising consumer confidence buoyed markets. The S&P 500 closed up four points to 4,690. The Dow rose by 16 points to 35,648 and Nasdaq added 5.50 points to finish the day at 16,175.25.

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