Another socially distanced New Year's Eve – USA TODAY

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Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled across the USA. Again. Anthony Fauci laid out his recommendations for New Year’s Eve amid¬†the COVID-19 surge. And could a sunken slave ship contain human DNA?
ūüĎč Hey!¬†Laura¬†here, with all the news you need to know on this lazy, cozy Monday. Seriously, does anyone get anything accomplished between Christmas and New Year’s Day?
But first, what do a giant acorn, a big potato and bologna have in common? ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ¬†They‚Äôre all dropped in various cities on New Year‚Äôs Eve.
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A glass of champagne and a kiss are fine, but Americans should stay away from big parties this New Year’s Eve,¬†presidential health adviser Anthony Fauci said Monday.¬†Fauci said in an interview on CNN that people should avoid gatherings where they don‚Äôt know the vaccination status of all the guests. The omicron variant is fueling another infection surge, and crowded indoor parties could accelerate¬†spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday cut the amount of time it recommends people should isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus¬†from 10 days to five.¬†Health officials similarly reduced the amount of time one should quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tests positive.¬†
Another day, another spate of flight cancellations. Airlines¬†canceled and delayed thousands¬†more¬†flights Monday¬†amid a staffing crisis caused by the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant.¬†More than 1,000 U.S. flights were canceled and more than 3,700¬†were delayed by 2:30 p.m. EST, according to¬†FlightAware, which tracks flight status in real-time. Those are flights within, to and from the USA across all airlines.¬†Several airlines said the scheduling issues were caused by staffing problems tied to¬†COVID-19, and¬†“weather challenges” were also blamed for the nearly 900 delays on Southwest Monday, the most for any airline.¬†JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski¬†said the airline has seen¬†an “increasing number” of sick calls because of¬†the fast-spreading omicron variant. He warned that additional cancellations and delays “remain a possibility.”
Cold on the left coast, balmy in the South. Snow and rain pummeled a swath of the West on Monday while a holiday heat wave swept parts of the Southern Plains as the¬†wild run of weather¬†continued across the nation. Forecasters warned the weather pattern was not expected to change soon. “Significant snowfall to continue for portions of West Coast mountain ranges and the Intermountain West,” National Weather Service meteorologist Peter Mullinax wrote in an advisory Monday. “Record cold for parts of the West Coast.”¬†Farther south was a far different story.¬†The South and Southeast remain¬†under the influence of a system that will provide above-normal temperatures through midweek. For the full weather outlook, click here.
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The Los Angeles Police Department on Monday was expected to release video and other information about a police shooting last week at a Burlington store that killed a 14-year-old girl and an alleged suspect in an assault. The officer who fired the shot that killed the girl was placed on administrative leave, the department confirmed. The Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner identified the girl Friday as Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, and ruled her death a homicide by a gunshot wound to the chest. The male suspect also died by a gunshot wound. The coroner identified him as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24. The officer on administrative leave has not been publicly identified.
Researchers studying Clotilda, the last known slave ship to reach America in 1860, discovered most of the ship is still intact ‚Äď down to an unventilated pen for captives.¬†Two-thirds of the ship remain protected by freshwater and mud in a river near Mobile, Alabama, including the entire lower deck where 108 enslaved Africans were kept. Researchers said human DNA and other remains that may be found in the hull could help reveal descendants of the captives who formed their own town, Africatown, after the Civil War. William Foster, a wealthy businessman, secretly imported Africans to Alabama nearly half a century after the slave trade was outlawed. He tried to hide the evidence by burning and sinking the ship once the slaves were taken ashore. After a failed attempt, most of the vessel remains in the Mobile River.
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