Two weeks have passed since news of an omicron version of coronavirus was spread throughout the world. The majority of Americans are aware of it. Most Americans are not too concerned by this variant but few will alter their plans for holiday travel.

Axios/Ipsos polls conducted December 3 to Dec 6 revealed that 94% of Americans had heard about omicron. This is the latest variant of coronavirus, which was first reported in South Africa by health officials. 

At least one-third already have cases. Early evidence suggests it is more contagious than delta, although perhaps not as dangerous.

47% of Americans stated that they have heard about it but know very little. To learn more about the omicron, scientists and health professionals are conducting research.

71% of Americans said that they are at least slightly concerned about the variant. Nearly three quarters (73%) agreed. According to the Axios/Ipsos poll, only 23% would cancel holidays travel and 28% would not gather with others outside of their household.

In the news also:

►Minnesota’s intensive care units are at 98% capacity — the highest level yet during the coronavirus pandemic.

►Louisiana’s Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear arguments in a pastor’s fight against criminal charges he faces for violations of pandemic gathering limits that were in effect last year.

►Canadian drug manufacturer Medigo says that its plant-based, two-dose COVID vaccine is 71% effective, and it will seek approval in Canada, the U.S., the UK and other countries.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 49 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 790,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 266.8 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. More than 199 million Americans — 60% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Is it the cold? Or is it the flu? Oder COVID. Breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in vaccinated people typically result in mild symptoms that are easy to confuse. 

For the most recent news, keep checking this page. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Federal workers are denied vaccine mandate by Biden, but a judge blocks it

Seven states and many contractors won the case against federal contractor enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. A federal judge sided with them.

In a 28-page order released Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker granted the states a preliminary injunction that halts enforcement of President Joe Biden’s executive order that required all federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated.

Baker said that Baker was quoting a Kentucky federal judge who granted an injunction to stop the enforcement of vaccine mandates last Wednesday. They are. Baker recognized the devastating effects of COVID on Americans and other countries.

Baker said, “But, even in crisis, this court should preserve the rule and law and ensure all branches act within their constitutionally granted authority.”

— Sandy Hodson, The Augusta Chronicle

Under GOP pressure, Tennessee Medical Board removes Anti-Misinformation Policy

Tennessee’s medical licensing board voted Tuesday to delete a policy opposing coronavirus misinformation from its website due to fears a powerful conservative lawmaker would otherwise dissolve the board and replace its members.

The policy, unanimously adopted by the Board of Medical Examiners in September, establishes that doctors who spread demonstrably untrue information about COVID-19 vaccines could have their licenses suspended or potentially revoked. Members voted 7 to 3 to delete — but not rescind — the policy.

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), a cochair of the Joint Government Operations Committee, was instrumental in the deletion. Over the past two months, Ragan sent letters pressuring the board to delete the policy or appear before the committee to explain itself.

Ragan later made a “threat” to dissolve the board in behind-the-scenes discussions with the Department of Health, according to a letter from a department attorney obtained by The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The board members had to remove the policy in order to placate Ragan but they stated that they wouldn’t abandon its original purpose.

— Brett Kelman, The Nashville Tennessean

Contributing to The Associated Press



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