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Photo by Michelle Hassler, Nebraska News Service

12/31: COVID surges, drug bust and flight delays

By Hanna Christensen

New records set in the U.S. and Europe for most COVID cases in a day 

The U.S. recorded its highest number of new COVID cases in a single day on Dec. 28. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied 441,278 infections, which is almost 150,000 cases higher than the previous record of 294,015, set last January. The U.S. averaged 240,408 cases a day over the past week, which is more than double the rate in early December. Several European nations–  including Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy and Spain- have also set daily infection records this week.


Flight delays and cancellations across the world– and in Nebraska

The Lincoln Airport and Omaha Eppley Airfield experienced flight delays and cancellations on Dec. 29. According to FlightAware, more than 11,000 flights across the world were delayed and more than 2,000 were canceled that day. Airlines have been citing weather issues and crew shortages due to the omicron variant as reasons for delays. Visit flightview to check the status of a flight. 


CDC cuts COVID isolation guidelines in half

The CDC announced Dec. 27 that people who test positive for COVID but do not show symptoms should isolate for five days rather than the previously recommended 10 days. Those people should wear a mask for the five days following their isolation period. The change was attributed to growing evidence that COVID is most infectious during the two to three days after showing symptoms and the protection added by vaccines and booster doses. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said the worker shortages also played a role in the decision. “On balance, if you look at the safety of the public and the need to have society not disrupted, this was a good choice,” he said.


High demand for COVID testing in Nebraska

As COVID cases rise across Nebraska, more people are wanting to get tested. Nomi Health conducts free COVID testing across the state, and the demand for tests has surged over the holidays. Testing sites have had long lines. The lines at the Gateway Mall testing site in Lincoln stretched out onto main roads on Dec. 27, and with the highly contagious Omicron variant combined with the holiday season, the high demand is expected to continue into January.


Nebraska deputies find 45 pounds of meth in stolen car during traffic stop

After stopping a semi on Interstate 80 near the Seward exit, sheriff’s deputies in Seward County uncovered 45 pounds of methamphetamine in a stolen vehicle. The car, a 2021 Infiniti SUV that had been stolen in California, was one of eight vehicles being hauled by the semi. Deputies found 40 pounds of meth in a spare tire and another 5 pounds in the speaker compartment. The street value of the drugs was an estimated $315,000. The incident occurred Dec. 17 and was announced in a news release on Dec. 28.


Jeffery Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking case

Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, was found guilty on five of six counts relating to her role in Jeffery Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors between 1994 and 2004. The five counts are the sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three counts of conspiracy. She was found not guilty of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison. Her sentencing date remains to be set. 


Food bank opening to address growing hunger needs in southeast Nebraska

A new food bank building, called the Scott Young Hunger Solution Center, is set to open in northeast Lincoln in early spring. According to KOLN, the space will be two to three times larger than the current site, which will help southeast Nebraska help deal with growing hunger in southeast Nebraska. It is designed to be more efficient and have healthier food options.