The Wider World

COVID cases hit record highs

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

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing the number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases to record highs.

According to the Associated Press, new coronavirus cases across the U.S. are now averaging 265,000 a day. Omicron is emerging as mixed threat/blessing. It’s more easily transmissible than earlier versions, but the threat of severe illness or death is lesser. Still, there’s the danger of health care providers being overtaxed by the sheer volume of cases.

Shortages of crews for airlines have caused some flights to be cancelled and some areas are starting to reinstate some restrictions lifted earlier this year.

However, in California and Orange County the prospect of closing schools and stores seems distant.

Some gatherings among family and friends who has been vaccinated and received a booster shot are probably safe, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on the virus on Wednesday.

But a big New Year’s Eve party with “everybody hugging and kissing,” is something he would “strongly recommend” against.

Maxwell found guilty on sex charges

A jury on Wednesday found Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, the onetime girlfriend of financier Jeffrey Epstein, guilty of five counts of sex trafficking for her role in arranging for young girls to be “sexually abused” by Epstein.

According to United Press International, she faces a possible sentence of 65 years prison. She received about $30.7 million from Epstein, court records showed. He committed suicide while waiting for his trial.

Sports: Rodgers won’t rule out retirement

AARON RODGERS. Might he retire after this season? (File photo).

Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers has led his team to the top of the NFL and is very much in the conversation for another MVP season. So … he’s talking about retirement?”

Rodgers, 38, said Wednesday, “Wanting to not be a bum on the way out and still be able to play, I think, is important to me,” he said, according to the Sports Illustrated. He said he’ll make a decision on next year shortly after this season is concluded.

Despite a bothersome toe injury, Rodgers has thrown 16 TD passes with no interceptions over the last five games.

“If this year has taught me anything, it’s that I can still play,” he said.

Weather: Rain on Thursday, some sun Friday

If you can put up with rain for one more day in the West Orange County area, there’s some sun at the end of the tunnel, to mix a metaphor. Thursday will see more wet stuff, with a daytime high of 58 and an overnight low of 50. Friday will have mostly sunny weather with a high of 61(47). The sun will break through on Sunday with a high of 63(41).

Finance: Wall Street winding up

There was a low volume of trading in U.S. stock exchanges on Wednesday, as the trading year approaches its end.

All three major exchanges closed down slightly, with two of them poised to finish 2021 at all-time highs.

The S&P 500 was down 3 points to 4,781.50, while the Dow dropped 16 points to 36,365. Nasdaq fell 19.75 points to 16,470.75.

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