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    AP Top News at 11:41 p.m. EST

    December 28, 2021 GMT

    US officials recommend shorter COVID isolation, quarantine

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant. Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

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    Omicron, storms disrupt air travel for 4th consecutive day

    NEW YORK (AP) — Flight cancellations that disrupted holiday travel, stretched into Monday as airlines called off more than 1,000 U.S. flights because crews were sick with COVID-19 during one of the year’s busiest travel periods, and storm fronts added to the havoc. Flight delays and cancellations tied to staffing shortages have been common this year. Airlines encouraged workers to quit in 2020, when air travel collapsed, and carriers have struggled to make up ground this year, when air travel rebounded faster than almost anyone had expected. The arrival of the omicron variant only exacerbated the problem. “During the pandemic, we have seen experienced airline personnel leave the industry and not return across the globe,” said John Grant, senior analyst at travel industry research firm OAG.

    Fauci: US should consider vaccine mandate for US air travel

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said Monday the nation should consider a vaccination mandate for domestic air travel, signaling a potential embrace of an idea the Biden administration has previously eschewed, as COVID-19 cases spike. Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief science adviser on the pandemic response, said such a mandate might drive up the nation’s lagging vaccination rate as well as confer stronger protection on flights, for which federal regulations require all those age 2 and older to wear a mask. “When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to get more people vaccinated,” Fauci told MSNBC.

    Young South Africans learn of Tutu’s activism for equality

    JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy is reverberating among young South Africans, many of whom were not born when the clergyman battled apartheid and sought full rights for the nation’s Black majority. Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for those efforts. Even though they did not know much about him, some young South Africans told The Associated Press on Monday that they understood his role as one of the most prominent figures to help their country become a democracy. Zinhle Gamede, 16, said she found out about Tutu’s passing on social media and has learned more about him over the past day.

    Flu is making a comeback in US after an unusual year off

    The U.S. flu season has arrived on schedule after taking a year off, with flu hospitalizations rising and two child deaths reported. Last year’s flu season was the lowest on record, likely because COVID-19 measures — school closures, distancing, masks and canceled travel — prevented the spread of influenza, or because the coronavirus somehow pushed aside other viruses. “This is setting itself up to be more of a normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like illnesses for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The childhood deaths, Brammer said, are “unfortunately what we would expect when flu activity picks up.

    LA police video shows officer shooting that killed bystander

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Video released Monday showed Los Angeles police firing at a man suspected of assaulting customers last week at a clothing store, a shooting that also killed a 14-year-old girl hiding in a dressing room who was struck by a bullet that went through a wall. The Los Angeles Police Department posted an edited video package online that included 911 calls, radio transmissions, body camera footage and surveillance video from the Thursday shooting at a Burlington store crowded with holiday shoppers. The department’s policy is to release video from critical incidents, such as police shootings, within 45 days.

    Biden signs $768.2 billion defense spending bill into law

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law Monday, authorizing $768.2 billion in military spending, including a 2.7% pay raise for service members, for 2022. The NDAA authorizes a 5% increase in military spending, and is the product of intense negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over issues ranging from reforms of the military justice system to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for soldiers. “The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense,” Biden said in a statement. The $768.2 billion price tag marks $25 billion more than Biden initially requested from Congress, a prior proposal that was rejected by members of both parties out of concerns it would undermine U.S.

    Snow blasts California and freezes Pacific Northwest

    SEATTLE (AP) — Severe weather sweeping parts of the U.S. brought frigid temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, heavy snow to mountains in Northern California and Nevada and unseasonable warmth to Texas and the Southeast. Emergency warming shelters were opened throughout Oregon and western Washington as temperatures plunged into the teens and forecasters said an arctic blast would last for several days. Sunday’s snow showers blew into the Pacific Northwest from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) across the Seattle area. The National Weather Service said Seattle’s low Sunday was 20 degrees F (-6.7 C), breaking a mark set in 1948.

    Officials: Nearly 25% of Navy warship crew has COVID-19

    WASHINGTON (AP) — About two dozen sailors on a U.S. Navy warship — or roughly 25% of the crew — have now tested positive for COVID-19, keeping the ship sidelined in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba Monday, according to U.S. defense officials. The USS Milwaukee has a crew of a bit more than 100, and it was forced to pause its deployment late last week because of the coronavirus outbreak. The defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the outbreak, said the number of infected sailors is staying relatively constant at this point.

    Waddle shines, Dolphins beat Saints 20-3 to win 7th straight

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rookie sensation Jaylen Waddle returned from the COVID-19 list to catch 10 passes for 92 yards and touchdown, and the Miami Dolphins beat the short-handed New Orleans Saints 20-3 on Monday night, becoming the first NFL team to win seven straight games after losing seven in a row. Nik Needham intercepted Saints rookie quarterback Ian Book and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to help to help Miami become one of four 8-7 teams — along with Baltimore, the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas — in contention for one of the final playoff spots in the AFC.