News Headlines 12/31/21

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COVID CASES SURGE WORLDWIDE: The total number of new COVID cases across the world now tops one million a day on average, according to The New York Times. The United States, Canada and most of Western Europe are hardest hit. Sixteen states and Puerto Rico have reached their highest levels yet in the pandemic.

  • Although 78,000 people are in hospitals for COVID treatment in the U.S., the death rate remains significantly lower than earlier in the pandemic. Early data suggest that the new Omicron variant is more contagious but less deadly than the Delta strain.
  • New York City is once again the epicenter of the pandemic, with 44,000 new cases recorded Thursday. About 30 percent of the Fire Department’s emergency medical service personnel are out sick.
  • The Centers for Disease Control has issued an advisory urging travelers to avoid cruise ships, whether or not they’re vaccinated. The Cruise Lines International Association said it was “disappointed” and “perplexed” at the decision.
  • CHECK IT OUT: The New York Times maps the virus county by county.
  • A ray of hope came from South Africa, where the omicron strain emerged.  The South African government says infections have peaked and are declining as fast as they rose. “It was a flash flood more than a wave,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council.

BOULDER RESIDENTS FLEE WILDFIRES: More than 30,000 residents of Boulder County, Colorado, have been ordered to evacuate to escape wildfires fanned by powerful winds up to 80 miles per hour. The entire populations of Superior and Louisville were ordered to flee. There were at least three active fires yesterday.

  • CHECK IT OUT: Images from the scene were captured by Adams County Fire responders, The Denver Post and ABC News (below).

TRUCKER’S 110-YEAR SENTENCE COMMUTED: Colorado Governor Jared Polis has reduced the 110-year prison sentence of a truck driver convicted of vehicular homicide to 10 years. More than five million people signed a petition asking for a reduced sentence for Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos. Four people died in the fatal accident after the truck’s brakes failed on I-70 in Lakewood.

(Headline News, FYI and Sports stories were compiled in part from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters.)