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    AP Top News at 9:15 p.m. EST

    January 5, 2022 GMT

    COVID case counts may be losing importance amid omicron

    The explosive increase in U.S. coronavirus case counts is raising alarm, but some experts believe the focus should instead be on COVID-19 hospital admissions. And those aren’t climbing as fast. Dr. Anthony Fauci, for one, said Sunday on ABC that with many infections causing few or no symptoms, “it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases.” Other experts argue that case counts still have value. As the super-contagious omicron variant rages across the U.S., new COVID-19 cases per day have more than tripled over the past two weeks, reaching a record-shattering average of 480,000.

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    Jan. 6 panel seeks interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection on Tuesday requested an interview with Fox News personality Sean Hannity, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the media, as the committee continues to widen its scope. In a letter to Hannity, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, said the panel wants to question him regarding his communications with former President Donald Trump, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others in Trump’s orbit in the days surrounding the insurrection. A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment on the request.

    CDC posts rationale for shorter isolation, quarantine

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    NEW YORK (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday explained the scientific rationale for shortening its COVID-19 isolation and quarantine recommendations, and clarified that the guidance applies to kids as well as adults. The CDC also maintained that, for people who catch COVID-19, testing is not required to emerge from five days of isolation — despite hints from other federal officials that the agency was reconsidering that. The agency announced the changes last week, halving the isolation time for Americans who catch the coronavirus and have no symptoms or only brief illnesses. Isolation should only end if a person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and if other symptoms are resolving, the CDC added.

    Family stranded in Virginia: ‘It’s not getting any better’

    By 1 p.m. Tuesday, morale was plummeting for Jennifer Travis, her husband and their 12-year-old daughter. They were down to half a bottle of water and no snacks. Their last meal had been at a Denny’s at 7 p.m. Monday. They hadn’t slept and were dressed for sunny Florida, not the frigid snowstorm in Virginia that had stranded them in their rented Chevy Tahoe for more than 18 hours. “It’s getting hard because it’s not getting any better,” said Travis, 42, her voice cracking as she sat on traffic-clogged U.S. Route 17 near Fredericksburg. “They keep saying help is coming. But it’s not coming.

    Manchin wary of changing Senate rules to advance voting bill

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin sounded a skeptical note Tuesday about the prospects of easing the Senate’s filibuster rules, raising doubts about whether he will provide crucial support to the Democrats’ renewed push for voting legislation they say is needed to protect democracy. Manchin told reporters it was his “absolute preference” that Republicans support any changes and he described acting on a purely partisan basis as a “heavy lift.” Still, he did not slam the door completely shut, saying he was exploring “the options we have open.” “I think that for us to go it alone, no matter what side does, it ends up coming back at you pretty hard,” Manchin said.

    Biden says deal with telecoms avoids flight disruptions

    AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay the launch of a new slice of 5G service by two weeks after airlines and the nation’s aviation regulator complained about potential interference with systems on board planes. President Joe Biden said the agreement reached Monday will help avoid further disrupting flights that bad weather and the surging coronavirus have already delayed and canceled by the thousands over the past several days. The telecom giants agreed to delay Wednesday’s planned launch of the new C-Band strand of 5G, which promises faster speeds for customers, in order to implement changes around airports. They still dismiss concerns that it could negatively affect aviation equipment.

    Prosecutor drops groping charge against former NY Gov. Cuomo

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t face criminal prosecution over an allegation that he fondled an aide, after a prosecutor said Tuesday he couldn’t prove the case. Three days before the Democratic ex-governor was due to answer the misdemeanor charge in court, Albany County District Attorney David Soares asked a judge to dismiss a criminal complaint the county sheriff filed in October. “While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence, we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Soares said in a statement, adding he was “deeply troubled” by the allegation.

    Man free after 37 years due to ‘sex for lies’ false witness

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia man was freed from prison Tuesday after 37 years in a case marred by detectives who allegedly offered a witness sex and drugs at police headquarters in 1983 in exchange for false testimony. The trial witness was charged with perjury just days after Willie Stokes was convicted of murder in 1984. But Stokes didn’t learn about that perjury plea until 2015, decades into a life sentence. Stokes, 61, walked out of a state prison near Philadelphia eager to get a hug from his mother and a corned beef hoagie. His mother was too nervous to come after several earlier disappointments, so he greeted other family members instead.

    US arrests, charges suspect in Haitian president slaying

    MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. government announced Tuesday that it charged one of the main suspects in the killing of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse as it unsealed a complaint that revealed federal authorities had interviewed him several months ago while he was hiding in Jamaica. Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, a 43-year-old former Colombian soldier, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States and with providing material support resulting in death, knowing or intending that such material support would be used to prepare for or carry out the conspiracy to kill or kidnap. He appeared at a federal court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon but did not enter a plea.

    Will Elizabeth Holmes’ conviction sober up Silicon Valley?

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The fraud conviction of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes could do more than just send a once-celebrated ex-billionaire to prison. In theory, it could also deliver a sobering message to a Silicon Valley culture that often gets lost in its own hubris and swagger. Will it? Don’t hold your breath. For that change to happen, entrepreneurs would have to dial down their own hype, which could mean losing potential investors to louder startups with fewer qualms. Meanwhile, venture capitalists and other startup investors — always on the lookout for the next big windfall — would need to get a lot more skeptical about the ambitious pitches they’re hearing, despite the Valley’s decades-long habit of throwing money at a variety of sketchy startup ideas.