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COVID News: No deaths among initial U.S. omicron cases

Jacob Scott

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NEW YORK (WABC) — New CDC data shows there have been no deaths among the 43 confirmed cases in the U.S. of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

From those diagnoses, only one person was hospitalized.

Public health experts say there are early signs micron could cause less severe disease than variants we’ve seen before.

But it is still too soon to say for sure because many of the cases are younger adults who have been vaccinated.

Here are more of today’s COVID-19 headlines:

CDC considering boosters for younger kids
New studies show that pediatric cases of COVID-19 have jumped nearly 900% since last summer, and kids now make up almost a quarter of all cases in the U.S. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the agency is now considering expanding booster shots to younger kids in the coming months. “We’re first starting to get our 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated,” she said. “We’ll look again at the 12- to 15-year-olds, of course, as with the FDA, in real time.” But as health officials work to expand vaccine eligibility, some Americans are refusing to get their shots. Roughly two-thirds of parents of elementary school-aged children are either holding off on getting their younger kids vaccinated or refuse to do so.

2nd omicron case identified in New Jersey
New Jersey has announced a second omicron case. A Monmouth County man who attended Anime NYC at the Javits Center in November became ill on November 24 but was not hospitalized.

The individual experienced mild illness and has since recovered. He was fully vaccinated and had recently received a booster.

Connecticut IDs 9 additional omicron cases, bringing total statewide to 11
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced that there have been 9 additional cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant identified among Connecticut residents, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 11.

Specimen collection dates in the nine cases ranged from November 28 to December 7. They involve five women and four men between the ages of 20 to 85 years old. They are residents of Hartford County (1), New Haven County (5), and Fairfield County (3). Seven of the affected individuals were fully vaccinated.

NY Gov. Hochul announces indoor masking for places without vax requirement
Governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places in New York unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The governor made the decision based on the state’s weekly seven-day case rate as well as hospitalizations. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. It goes into effect from Decenber 13 until January 15, after which the state will re-evaluate the requirement based on current conditions.

FDA authorizes boosters for teens 16 & 17
The U.S. is expanding COVID-19 boosters, ruling that 16- and 17-year-olds can get a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine. The U.S. and many other nations already were urging adults to get booster shots to pump up immunity that can wane months after vaccination, calls that intensified with the discovery of the worrisome new omicron variant.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for 16- and 17-year-olds to get a third dose of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech — if it’s been six months since their last shot.

South Africa approves Pfizer vaccine booster amid COVID wave
South Africa’s regulatory authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster shot, opening the way for third doses to be administered to battle the current surge driven by the omicron variant. South Africa’s new COVID-19 cases continue to rise. In the last 24 hours, South Africa recorded 22,391 new cases, up from about 200 per day in early November. More than 90% of the new cases are omicron, according to genetic sequencing surveys. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has approved the Pfizer vaccine as a booster shot for people 18 years and older, six months after they received their second dose.

Vaccine makers racing to update COVID shots, just in case
Vaccine makers are racing to update their COVID-19 shots against omicron even before it’s clear a change is needed, just in case. Experts doubt today’s vaccines will become useless, and the first hints this week suggested boosters likely do offer some protection against the newest variant threat. But further tests are underway to tell if it’s enough, or if protection has dropped enough to warrant a recipe change. It’s not clear how big a drop would trigger such a drastic move. Pfizer and Moderna have practiced tweaking their shots against earlier mutants so they’d know how but brewing new doses still would take months.

WHO warns fears of omicron could spark new vaccine hoarding
The World Health Organization has expressed concerns that rich countries spooked by the emergence of the omicron variant could step up hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines and strain global supplies again. It said Thursday that could complicate efforts to stamp out the pandemic. The U.N. health agency reiterated its advice to governments against the widespread use of boosters in their populations so that well-stocked countries instead can send doses to vulnerable people in poorer countries that have largely lacked access to them. Months of short supplies of COVID-19 vaccines have begun to ease over the last two months or so and doses are finally getting to needier countries. WHO wants that to continue.

Slovakia to pay people over 60 if they are vaccinated
Slovakia’s Parliament has approved a plan to give people 60 and older up to 300 euros ($339) if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. The measure should boost inoculations in the European Union country with one of the bloc’s lowest vaccination rates. It should also help the struggling health care system amid a record surge of new infections. So far, only 46.5% of the nation’s 5.5 million people have been fully vaccinated. Those people who have received a booster shot by Jan. 15 will receive 300 euros, while anyone who has had at least one primary vaccination will get 200 euros.

Africa CDC: Nations might turn to COVID-19 vaccine mandates
The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says African governments might have to resort to COVID-19 vaccine mandates if their citizens don’t hurry to get the increasingly available doses. The warning by John Nkengasong to reporters that governments “will not have a choice” came as the flow of doses to Africa’s 54 countries grows. But vaccine hesitancy, and the short shelf life of some donations, create new pressures to get doses into the arms of the continent’s 1.3 billion people. Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated region against COVID-19, with less than 8% of its population fully jabbed.

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE

New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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