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Country Faces Wave of Omicron Deaths in Coming Weeks, Models Show

Yesenia Harris

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The fast-moving omicron variant may cause less severe disease on average, but COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are climbing and modelers forecast 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the wave subsides in mid-March.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been trending upward since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,700 on Jan. 17 — still below the peak of 3,300 in January 2021. COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents started rising slightly two weeks ago, although still at a rate 10 times less than last year before most residents were vaccinated.

Despite signs omicron causes milder disease on average, the unprecedented level of infection spreading through the country, with cases still soaring in many states, means many vulnerable people will become severely sick. If the higher end of projections comes to pass, that would push total U.S. deaths from COVID-19 over 1 million by early spring.


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“A lot of people are still going to die because of how transmissible omicron has been,” said University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi. “It unfortunately is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Morgues are starting to run out of space in Johnson County, Kansas, said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the health department. More than 30 residents have died in the county this year, the vast majority of them unvaccinated.

But the notion that a generally less severe variant could still take the lives of thousands of people has been difficult for health experts to convey. The math of it — that a small percentage of a very high number of infections can yield a very high number of deaths — is difficult to visualize.

“Overall, you’re going to see more sick people even if you as an individual have a lower chance of being sick,” said Katriona Shea of Pennsylvania State University, who co-leads a team that pulls together several pandemic models and shares the combined projections with the White House.

The wave of deaths heading for the United States will crest in late January or early February, Shea said. In early February, weekly deaths could equal or exceed the delta peak, and possibly even surpass the previous U.S. peak in deaths last year.

Some unknown portion of these deaths are among people infected with the delta variant, but experts say omicron is also claiming lives.

“This is omicron driven,” Shea said of the coming wave of deaths. The combined models project 1.5 million Americans will be hospitalized and 191,000 will die from mid-December through mid-March. Taking into account the uncertainty in the models, U.S. deaths during the omicron wave could range from 58,000 to 305,000.

Yet, it’s become increasingly clear that the risk from omicron is lower than from previous variants. New evidence from nearly 70,000 patients in Southern California suggests omicron is causing milder illness than delta.


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A study, posted online and cited during a recent White House briefing, found patients with omicron had a 53% lower risk of hospitalization with respiratory symptoms, a 74% lower risk of ICU admission, and a 91% lower risk of death. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, comes from researchers at Kaiser Permanente and University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s hard for me to say straight out it’s good news,” said study co-author Sara Y. Tartof, a Kaiser Permanente research scientist. “Maybe there’s good news in the sense that if you are infected your chance of becoming severely ill are decreased, but from a societal perspective it’s a very heavy burden for us. It remains a serious situation, and we need to maintain practices and behaviors we know protect us.”

Overburdened hospitals could also contribute to more deaths, said Marc Lipsitch of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and scientific director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s forecasting center.

“In places with extremely short staffing and overloads of patients, as the medical professionals have been telling us, the quality of care begins to suffer,” Lipsitch said. “That may also lead to higher death rates, but that’s not in any of the models that I’m aware of.”

Original Post: fox16.com

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Pulaski County Fair Comes to North Little Rock Riverfront Park

Yesenia Harris

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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – If you are looking for a fun time going into the weekend, the Pulaski County Fair is back in the Little Rock metro this week.

North Little Rock is hosting its 2nd annual fair at the Riverfront Park in North Little Rock. The fair hours Wednesday through Friday will be 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, it will open at noon and close at 11 p.m.


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Fair-goers will be able to enjoy Hip Hop Night Thursday and participate in a pie contest the following Sunday. Other activities include rides, games and talent contests.

Adult admission is $5 and children 12 and under will have free admission.

For more information on ticket purchase and activities, visit ThePulaskiCountyFair.com.

Original Source: fox16.com

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Court Recesses in Josh Duggar Child Pornography Sentencing

Yesenia Harris

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On May 25, Judge Timothy L. Brooks called a recess in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court shortly after 11:30 a.m.

Nearly the entire morning session of Joshua Duggar’s sentencing hearing was spent addressing a list of objections the defense made to a pre-sentencing report submitted to the court. The prosecution had one objection, which was addressed before today’s hearing.

The defense had 21 objections, and the morning proceed with the judge addressing many of them. Several objections about sentencing enhancements were overruled, others were sustained, and a handful of them were tabled until later in the day.


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Some of the judge’s rulings on certain objections also rendered others moot, seeing some of the 22 items withdrawn. The judge also vacated one of Duggar’s convictions as a lesser charge, which he had previously noted he would do when Duggar was found guilty in December, 2021.

The judge sided with the defense on the matter of whether Duggar “did knowingly engage in distribution” of illegal child sexual assault materials. At issue was the peer-to-peer file sharing software Duggar used, which is how his activity was first discovered by an undercover Little Rock police officer.

Ultimately, the judge found the passive nature of the software, which cannot turn file sharing ability on or off, to be enough to sustain the defense’s objection.

Another matter that has been disputed by both sides in sentencing memorandums pertains to the total number of images Duggar downloaded. The defense has maintained that the number is “127 at most,” while the prosecution has stated that there were over 600.

Today, the judge clarified the importance of this difference, noting that the defense’s total would result in a two-level sentencing enhancement, while the prosecution’s higher number would increase that to a five level enhancement.


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A good deal of time was spent trying to calculate an exact total, with the judge ultimately deciding that it was impossible, partially due to the presence of some files being located in unallocated space on Duggar’s computer. Judge Brooks added that each video counted as 75 images in this total.

“The Court gets to 525 images very easily,” he stated, before settling on an unconfirmed total of 590. He acknowledged that there may be more than 600, but for sentencing purposes he limited the enhancement to four levels.

Two defense objections pertained to what the court called Duggar’s “Ashley Madison scandal,” and the judge ruled that his confessions about infidelity before the trial and his own words about having a pornography addiction were “relevant in several respects.”

Judge Brooks will rule on the remaining objections and subsequently begin addressing the final sentencing guidelines this afternoon, beginning at 12:10 p.m.

Original Article: fox16.com

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Norwich Man Charged With Home Invasion, Assault With “hatchet-style” Weapon

Yesenia Harris

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Norwich police on Wednesday, with the aid of the U.S. Marshal’s Service, arrested the suspect in a Feb. 8 home invasion.

Original Post: theday.com

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