How will pandemic end? Omicron clouds forecasts for endgame

Pandemics do eventually end, even if omicron is complicating the question of when this one will. But it won't be like flipping a light switch: The world will have to learn to coexist with a virus that's not going away. The ultra-contagious omicron mutant is pushing cases to all-time highs and causing chaos as an exhausted world struggles, again, to stem the spread. But this time, we're not starting from scratch. Vaccines offer strong protection from serious illness, even if they don't always prevent a mild infection. Omicron doesn't appear to be as deadly as some earlier variants. And those who survive it will have some refreshed protection against other forms of the virus that still are circulating — and maybe the next mutant to emerge, too. The newest variant is a warning about what will continue to happen “unless we really get serious about the endgame,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health.“Certainly COVID will be with us forever,” Ko added. “We’re never going to be able to eradicate or eliminate COVID, so we have to identify our goals.”

$29,000 for an average used car? Would-be buyers are aghast

A couple of months ago, a woman paid a visit to Jeff Schrier's used car lot in Omaha, Nebraska. She was on a tight budget, she said, and was desperate for a vehicle to commute to work. She was shown three cars priced at her limit, roughly $7,500. Schrier said the woman was stunned. "'That's what I get for $7,500? ‘" he recalled her saying. The vehicles had far more age or mileage on them than she had expected for something to replace a car that had been totaled in a crash. The woman eventually settled on a 2013 Toyota Scion with a whopping 160,000 miles on it. Schrier isn’t sure he made any profit on the deal. "We just helped her out," he said. As prices for used vehicles blow past any seemingly rational level, it is the kind of scenario playing out at many auto dealerships across the country. Prices have soared so high, so fast, that buyers are being increasingly priced out of the market.

Capitol rioters' tears, remorse don't spare them from jail

Florida business owner Robert Palmer cheered on the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 before he joined the fray. Screaming obscenities, he hurled a wooden plank and a fire extinguisher at police officers trying to ward off the mob. Nearly a year later, Palmer fought back tears when he faced the federal judge who sentenced him to more than five years in prison. He said he was “horrified, absolutely devastated” by what he had done. “I'm just so ashamed that I was a part of that,” Palmer told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Dec. 17 before she gave him the longest prison term for any rioter so far. Judges are hearing tearful expressions of remorse — and a litany of excuses — from rioters paying a price for joining the Jan. 6 insurrection, even as others try to play down the deadly attack on a seat of American democracy.

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