Colleges go back to drawing board — again — to fight COVID

Facing rising infections and a new COVID-19 variant, colleges across the U.S. have once again been thwarted in seeking a move to normalcy and are starting to require booster shots, extend mask mandates, limit social gatherings and, in some cases, revert to online classes. The threat of the omicron variant comes as a gut punch to schools that were hoping to relax safety measures this spring. Now, many are telling students to prepare for another term of masking, testing and, if cases get bad, limits around social life. Cornell University shut down all campus activities on Tuesday and moved final exams online after more than 700 students tested positive over three days. In a campus message, President Martha Pollack said there was evidence of the omicron variant in a “significant” number of samples.

Evictions on the rise months after federal moratorium ends

BOSTON — Soon after losing his trucking job amid the pandemic, Freddie Davis got another blow: His landlord in Miami was almost doubling the rent on his Miami apartment. Davis girded for what he feared would come next. In September he was evicted — just over a month after a federal eviction moratorium ended. He's now languishing in a hotel, aided by a nonprofit that helps homeless people. The 51-year-old desperately wants to find a new apartment. But it's proving impossible on his $1,000-a-month disability check. “We live in America, and the thing is, people like me, we got to go to the street if we don’t have no other place to go because we can’t afford rent,” said Davis, who lost a leg to diabetes, suffers congestive heart failure and is recovering from multiple wounds on his other leg and foot. “I really can’t do nothing.” The federal ban, along with a mix of state and federal moratoriums, is credited with keeping Davis and millions of others in their homes during the pandemic and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

New Georgia Freedom Caucus seeks right turn in state policy

A group of Georgia Republican lawmakers announced the launch Tuesday of a Freedom Caucus in the state's General Assembly, vowing to move outcomes to the political right even as the majority GOP-legislature girds for an election-year session that could be dominated by appeals to Republican primary voters. Eight Republicans introduced themselves as members of the first-ever state level Freedom Caucus, although a national group promised the Georgia affiliate would be the first of many. Lawmakers from more than a dozen other states gathered Tuesday in Atlanta to discuss forming their own state-level groups. All would be modeled on the House Freedom Caucus in Congress, a group that has often found Republican House leadership to be insufficiently conservative for its tastes.

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