Omicron-fueled flight cancellations, Ghislaine Maxwell trial: 5 things you need to know Monday – USA TODAY

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After more than 4,000 flights were delayed or canceled Christmas Day and another 1,400 were canceled on Sunday, disruptions amid the omicron-driven coronavirus surge continue into Monday. Delta, United and JetBlue have all blamed the omicron variant for staffing problems leading to flight cancellations in recent days. United spokesperson Maddie King said staffing shortages were still causing cancellations and it was unclear when normal operations would return.
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Jurors will resume deliberations Monday in the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell. The British socialite, who turned 60 in jail over the weekend, was arrested in July 2020 on charges alleging that she recruited and groomed teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse over a 10-year period from 1994 to 2004. Maxwell has remained behind bars without bail ever since. After two full days of deliberating, jurors went home on Wednesday without reaching a verdict. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan warned jurors to protect themselves against the coronavirus over the long holiday weekend amid a dramatic increase in infections in New York City.
International travel costs are set to rise next week thanks to a price hike in passport book fees. The State Department announced Monday that it would increase its security surcharge fees for passport books by $20 for all customers starting Dec. 27. The passport book fees vary by age: Travelers who are 16 and older applying for the first time will have to pay $165 for the passport book fees, and those renewing must pay $120 in fees, and travelers under 16 must pay $135 starting next week. According to the State Department, “the increased fee is necessary to ensure we continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world.” Travelers also have the option to pay $60 to expedite delivery and receive the passport in five to seven weeks or $17.56 for one-to-two day delivery.  
As omicron continues to spread across the country, COVID-19 cases are continuing to emerge on cruise ships. Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises are among the cruise lines with clusters of cases on board resulting in a myriad of scenarios including protocols kicking in to mitigate spread and itinerary changes. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working with global public health experts and industry partners to learn about omicron, spokesperson Dave Daigle said last week. MSC Seashore, which was scheduled to disembark passengers Thursday, sailed with 28 passengers who tested positive for COVID-19, and the CDC is investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas ship as it continues to sail with more than 50 cases of coronavirus onboard. 
As the NFL regular season nears its end, two teams hoping to make it to the playoffs will face each other on “Monday Night Football” when the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins take the field. As it stands, both Miami and New Orleans are outside of the playoff picture, with identical 7-7 records. At the moment, the Saints sit at No. 8 in the NFC, just behind the Philadelphia Eagles to claim the third Wild Card spot in the conference. Although the Dolphins are currently the No. 11 seed a crowded AFC playoff pool, a win on Monday would catapult them to the No. 7 and in position to grab the AFC’s final wild card position.


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