Omicron, the highly contagious coronavirus variant sweeping across the country, is driving the daily American death toll higher than during last fall's delta wave, with deaths likely to keep rising for days or even weeks.
Scientists and health officials around the world are keeping their eyes on a descendant of the omicron variant that has been found in more than 50 countries, including the United States.
This version of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely considered stealthier than the original version of omicron because particular genetic traits make it somewhat harder to detect.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said late Saturday she is self-isolating after coming into close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus.
The exposure came on a flight from the town of Kerikeri to the largest city of Auckland.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia is bracing for a third wave of COVID-19 infections as the highly transmissible omicron variant drives a surge in new cases, health authorities and experts said Saturday.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government said Friday it will watch the World Health Organization's investigation into staff complaints over racism and abuse by a top Japanese official at the agency but denied it inappropriately received sensitive vaccine information from him.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian health officials said there were signs of COVID-19 infections plateauing in some parts of the country but cautioned that cases were still surging in other states, linked to a new, stealthier version of the omicron variant.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — When the coronavirus began spreading around the world, the remote Pacific archipelago of Kiribati closed its borders, ensuring the disease didn't reach its shores for nearly two full years.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's main health agency is failing to meet its responsibilities for leading the national response to public health emergencies including the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather disasters and even potential bioterrorist attacks, a federal watchdog said Thursday.
Gas stoves are contributing more to global warming than previously thought because of constant tiny methane leaks while they’re off, a new study found.
The same study that tested emissions around stoves in homes raised new concerns about indoor air quality and health because of levels of nitrogen oxides measured.
NEW YORK (AP) — How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?
It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times.
The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — COVID-19 cases have surged in Utah throughout January, and that’s causing a problem for people who are unsheltered and don’t have a place to isolate.
The United Way of Utah County’s Mountainland Continuum of Care Program is a coalition of local nonprofits and government agencies that works with the homeless population.
No peace in Myanmar 1 year after military takeover
BANGKOK (AP) — The army takeover in Myanmar a year ago that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi not only unexpectedly aborted the country's fledgling return to democracy: It also brought a surprising level of popular resistance, which has blossomed into a low-level, but persistent, insurgency.
VIENNA (AP) — Austria plans to loosen coronavirus restrictions in February, government officials announced Saturday.
Starting Feb. 5, restaurants will be allowed to remain open until midnight, as opposed to 10 p.m, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said at a Saturday news conference.
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Cameroon authorities have blamed a deadly stadium crush at the African Cup of Nations tournament on a “massive” influx of ticketless fans who arrived late to a game involving the host team and tried to force their way in to avoid security checks and COVID-19 screening.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A pregnant New Zealand journalist says she turned to the Taliban for help and is now stranded in Afghanistan after her home country has prevented her from returning due to a bottleneck of people in its coronavirus quarantine system.
LE PECQ, France (AP) — In Sainte-Anastasie-sur-Issole, a village that curls catlike in verdant Provence hillocks, voters are making an early start on France's presidential election.
From their ballot box this weekend and next will come the name of the candidate — picked from among dozens — that they want their mayor to endorse.
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese voters go to the polls Sunday, two years earlier than scheduled, after a political crisis over a blocked spending bill brought down the minority Socialist government and triggered a snap election.
NEW YORK (AP) — Joni Mitchell said Friday she is seeking to remove all of her music from Spotify in solidarity with Neil Young, who ignited a protest against the streaming service for airing a podcast that featured a figure who has spread misinformation about the coronavirus.
Today in History
Today is Saturday, Jan. 29, the 29th day of 2022. There are 336 days left in the year.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Argentine singer-songwriter Diego Verdaguer, whose romantic hits such as “Corazón de papel,” “Yo te amo” and “Volveré” sold almost 50 million copies, has died of complications from COVID-19, his family said Friday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville’s police chief stripped an officer of policing authority Friday after he fired the final two shots to end a fatal interstate highway standoff in which nine officers opened fire on a man holding a box cutter.
MADRAS, Ore. (AP) — A man who was incarcerated at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution near Madras has died at a nearby hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the state Department of Corrections.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker who represents an Albuquerque district in the state House resigned Friday and said she was doing so to focus on her mental health.
Rep. Brittney Barreras was halfway through her first term in the House when she abruptly announced her resignation through a statement issued by the Democratic caucus.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Majority Democrats in the Legislature are indicating they may be open to putting restrictions on the governor’s broad emergency powers as Washington's COVID-19 state of emergency approaches two years.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese are traveling to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year, the country’s biggest family holiday, despite a government plea to stay where they are as Beijing tries to contain coronavirus outbreaks.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday allowed absentee ballot boxes to remain in place for the Feb. 15 statewide spring primary election for local offices, but said it will decide later about their legality going forward.
DOVER, Del. (AP) — People who are not “up to date” on their COVID-19 vaccines cannot be excluded from the jury pool for a criminal trial starting next week, a judge ruled Friday, rejecting a request by federal prosecutors in Delaware who had sought to keep out those potential jurors.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge has sided with the Treasury Department in a case that challenged the distribution of coronavirus relief aid to Native American governments.
Tribal governments had received $4.8 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act based on federal housing population data that some said was badly skewed.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld charges against two men accused of being part of a large drug ring in Maine that sold medical marijuana to people who were not patients.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Friday cleared the way for state-run health care facilities to require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine after officials warned that blocking the move would jeopardize more than $700 million in federal funding.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge resentenced “Tiger King” Joe Exotic to 21 years in prison on Friday, reducing his punishment by just a year despite pleas from the former zookeeper for leniency as he begins treatment for early-stage cancer.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The CEO of several medical imaging companies in California was sentenced to federal prison on Friday for bilking insurers out of tens of millions of dollars by bribing doctors to prescribe unecessary tests.
A key inflation gauge rose 5.8% in 2021, most in 39 years
WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of prices that is closely tracked by the Federal Reserve rose 5.8% last year, the sharpest increase since 1982, as brisk consumer spending collided with snarled supply chains to raise the costs of food, furniture, appliances and other goods.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Police in Canada’s capital have called in reinforcements as a planned anti-vaccine mandate protest began to swell in numbers.
Several thousand people are expected in Ottawa as part of group demanding an end to vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions.
BOUCHERVILLE, Quebec (AP) — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will resume activities Thursday following a weeks-long break because of COVID-19 complications.
The league said Friday that it plans to complete a full 68-game regular-season campaign, and that an adjusted schedule will be released Monday.
Maren Lundby was the world's best female ski jumper for three years, starting in 2018 when she won Olympic gold in South Korea.
PARIS (AP) — France is tightening its vaccination rules in a way that could put Novak Djokovic at risk of missing the French Open.
From Feb. 15, anyone who is not vaccinated against the coronavirus will need to show proof they tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous four months — down from the current six-month window — in order to enter sports venues in France.
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The full Maine Legislature will convene three times in February to vote on bills, but committee work will continue to be done virtually, legislative leaders said Friday.
Senate President Troy Jackson said that reducing the number of in-person meetings will be more efficient — and potentially reduce the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
Wall Street ended a volatile week of trading Friday with a late-afternoon buying spree that gave the major stock indexes their biggest gains of the year and snapped a three-week losing streak.
The S&P 500 rose 2.4%, with nearly all of it coming in the last hour of trading.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health officials say Oregon hospitals are near their COVID-19 breaking point as the state is expected to reach peak hospitalizations in coming weeks.
Fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant, hospitalizations could soon surpass the pandemic high, officials said Friday.
NEW YORK (AP) — New York state's mask mandate that requres face coverings in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues require COVID-19 vaccinations will be extended until at least Feb.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State colleges and universities in Virginia cannot require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, under a legal opinion issued Friday by Virginia’s new Republican attorney general.
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Evander Kane knows he will not be universally loved by by fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton is the fourth franchise for the 30-year-old forward whose contract was dumped by the San Jose Sharks.
State and local governments lost at least $117 billion of expected revenue early in the pandemic, according to an Associated Press analysis, but many are now awash in record amounts of money, boosted partly by federal aid.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee school board has approved spending $63 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars on dozens of renovation projects.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the board signed off on the spending Thursday.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Man’s best friend or foe? A New Hampshire House committee heard testimony Friday on legislation portraying dogs as crime victims or perpetrators, depending on the bill.
One proposal would make it a misdemeanor for dog owners to leave the scene of an attack after their dogs injure someone without providing their names to the injured parties.