The Wider World

New variant not as damaging?

THE OMICRON variant is the cause of most new cases of coronavirus, but appears to less damaging in its effects, according to new studies (Shutterstock).

Omicron, the latest and perhaps most contagious variant of the coronavirus, is proving to have a less severe effect on patients who are infected. The New York Times is reporting that several new studies – some on animals and some on humans – indicate that the Omicron’s infections are generally less damaging and tend to be limited to the nose, throat and windpipe.

Additionally, while cases have increased dramatically, hospitalizations and deaths have not. For example, over a 14-day period in which most new COVID-19 infections are believed to come from Omicron, new U.S. cases have spiked by 181 percent but deaths have declined by 5 percent. In California, Los Angeles Times reports a similar result with a 358 percent increase in new cases – over a similar period – while deaths are down 21 percent.

Versatile star Betty White dead at 99

BETTY WHITE (Wikipedia).

Betty White, a star whose career spanned movies, TVs and even Snickers’ commercials, died on Friday. She would have been 100 on Jan. 17.

White is best known for her roles in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.”

Her viral turn in the candy ad led to her hosting an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” That performance resulted in her winning a seventh Emmy Award.

Sports: ‘Bama, Bulldogs in the finals

The lineup for the College Football Playoffs championship game is set. Alabama will take on Georgia on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

Top-ranked Alabama handed Cincinnati its first defeat of the season Friday afternoon, beating the Bearcats 27-6 in a College Football Playoffs semifinal contest in the Cotton Bowl.

In that first semifinal, the Crimson Tide (now 13-1) were led by Bryce Young who threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and Brian Robinson, Jr. who ran for 204 yards. Cincinnati got 144 yards passing from QB Desmond Ridder. Jerome Ford rushed for 77 yards for the Bearcats (13-1).

Georgia defeated Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl, building up a 27-3 halftime lead and coasting to the win in the second semi-final. Stetson Bennett passed for 313 yards and three TDs to lead the Bulldogs (13-1). J.J. McCarthy had a subpar night for the Wolverines (12-2), completing just 7 of 17 passes for 131 yards and one score, which came late in the game.

Weather: The New Year will be sunny …

For a while … The forecast for the West Orange County area is for clear skies through the weekend and extending into Monday. Daytime highs will be in the mid-60s with overnight lows in the low 40s. Partly cloudy weather is expected to return in the latter part of the week.

Note to our readers: Because of the holiday, our usual Friday feature of “Weekend” will not appear today. It will resume on Jan. 7, 2022. Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

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