New COVID-19 travel rules amid omicron, latest on Michigan school shooting: 5 Things podcast – USA TODAY

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On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: New COVID-19 travel testing rules in effect as omicron spreads
The variant has now been detected in at least 15 states. Plus, a third party will investigate the buildup to last week’s Michigan school shooting, reporter Nina Mandell looks at the popularity of Spotify Wrapped and USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Schad wonders how omicron will affect the Winter Olympics.
Podcasts:True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Taylor Wilson:
Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Monday the 6th of December, 2021. Today, the latest on omicron as it spreads around the country. Plus the popularity of Spotify Wrapped, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
The omicron variant of COVID-19 has now been detected in 15 states around the country, but health officials largely spent the Sunday news shows urging the same protocols that Americans have been familiar with for months: vaccinations, booster shots and mask wearing. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN yesterday, “If you get boosted, we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection against the omicron variant if in fact it starts to take hold in a dominant way in this country.” He said that vaccines developed to fight the original COVID-19 strain have offered good protection against the delta variant. Fauci also added that there is reserved optimism because it does not currently appear that omicron is substantially more severe than other variants, but he was adamant that it’s too early to tell how transmissible or severe the variant is.
Meanwhile, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC that the Delta variant remains the main concern in the US. She said it makes up 99.9% of the 90,000 to 100,000 cases reported every day across the country. Walensky also urged vaccination with more than 30% of the country still unvaccinated.
If you’re flying back into the United States soon, you need to be aware of some new COVID-19 testing rules beginning today. The CDC has shortened the testing window that all international travelers have to take a coronavirus test from three days before the flight to just one. That was previously the requirement for unvaccinated travelers, but the CDC is now expanding the requirement to give less opportunity to develop infection after the test with the omicron variant. The new rule applies to all air passengers, aged two and older flying into the US, regardless of vaccination status or nationality. But travelers who can show proof that they’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days are exempt.
Questions continue to be asked of how a 15-year-old opened fire at a suburban Detroit school last week, killing 4 people. A third party will begin investigating events leading up to the deadliest school shooting in three years. And the Michigan Attorney general has offered her department’s services. Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said Friday that there were a number of red flags surrounding 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, who’s charged in the shooting. They include a cell phone search for gun ammunition seen by a teacher the day before, and a note found on the suspect’s desk just hours before the shooting, showing a drawing of a bullet with the words, “blood everywhere,” near a person who appears to have been shot. Meanwhile, the community of Oxford Township continues to mourn with a vigil over the weekend.
[Singing during vigil.]
And the story took its latest turn on Friday when the boy’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were arrested and charged within involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say they bought the murder weapon as a Christmas gift for their son. Bond has been set at $1 million for the couple after they failed to appear for an arraignment on Friday.
If you’re either a Spotify user or have been on social media at all this week, you’ve probably seen a lot of Spotify Wrapped. The streaming service first released the summary of listener’s habits back in 2015 and it’s since becomes something of a tradition. Reporter Nina Mandell looks into the craze.
Nina Mandell:
So it seems like everyone has posted their year-end Wrapped on Spotify because it is really popular. It’s something that they’ve built up since it was the Year in Review when it first started back in 2015 or 2016, and has kind of evolved to be a thing that everyone sort of looks forward to at the end of the year. Even though I have to say, seeing the embarrassing music choices that I’ve made throughout the year, I don’t know why people share it, but yeah, lots of people are sharing it. That’s why it seems like everyone is.
I’m not sure when it started taking off as a trend, but starting in around 2017, Spotify really put some emphasis on making it more of a social sharing thing. The end of the year thing, which they didn’t come up with. A lot of different companies do that. But they really put some social sharing cards that made it easy to share, and they’ve kept adding features that I think really just entertain people and make them want to have a conversation about it.
I would also add one interesting thing that one expert told me, was to keep in mind that when you’re sharing this, it’s not totally risk free. You’re sharing … I joke that I don’t want to share the embarrassing music that I listen to, but I don’t think anything bad is going to happen that everyone knows that my running mix starts with Spice Girls. Maybe I’m missing something there. But in this kind of time that we live in, I think that your podcast choices can say a lot about you and Spotify will tell you that. And so it was really just to keep in mind your audience about who you’re sharing your preferences with and that not everyone may share in those as well.
Taylor Wilson:
Check out the full story in today’s episode description.
As Beijing 2022 organizers continue to prepare for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, they now have a new factor to consider: the omicron variant of COVID-19. USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Schad reports.
Tom Schad:
We don’t know tons about the impact it could have in part just because we still know so little about the variant. So obviously as public health kind of comes along and we come to understand the variant a little bit more, it could have a bigger impact on the games themselves. The International Olympic Committee and organizers for Beijing 2022 have said that they’re monitoring it, they’re aware of it, but they’ve also continued to tout the COVID-19 countermeasures that they have in place, which are quite a bit more strict than the ones that were in place at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. When we arrive, we’re going to be immediately in what they’re calling a closed loop system, which is basically like a bubble. And you’re in that bubble from the minute you step off the plane in China to the minute you leave. There’s no interaction with the outside world. You’re going to be tested daily.
So all of these sorts of things, I think, give organizer’s confidence that they can deal with omicron. But at the same time, if we come to learn that omicron is more transmissible, or that vaccines, for example, aren’t as effective against this particular variant, then it could prompt some adjustments to how the Olympics go forward.
It’s possible that they could postpone the games. But I think I described it in the story as highly, highly unlikely. We’re in a completely different situation obviously than when we were last March when the Tokyo games were postponed. Obviously at that time, it was kind of, COVID was out of the blue, we had to race to create this whole infrastructure and protocols. And there just simply wasn’t enough time. Now, this is something that organizers have been preparing for. So even though it’s a new variant and that might pose additional challenges, the idea of holding the games during COVID is nothing new.
And I think the other important thing to mention here is that China is facing a lot of geopolitical pressure to hold the games on time. I think postponing them would be viewed, at least by the Chinese government, as something of a failure. There’s this kind of regional rivalry between China and Japan. And while there were lots of cases of COVID at the Tokyo Olympics, they were held on time after that postponement. And so I think China’s probably feeling a lot of pressure to do the same. And so they’re going to do, I think, everything in their power to ensure the games start as scheduled on February 4th.
Taylor Wilson:
For more head to
And you can find 5 Things, seven mornings a week right here, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.


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