Discovery of A New Variant Sends Chills Around The Globe

The discovery of a new coronavirus variant sent a chill through much of the world Friday as nations raced to halt air travel, markets fell sharply and scientists held emergency meetings to weigh the exact risks, which were largely unknown.  Medical experts, including the World Health Organization, warned against any overreaction before the variant that originated in southern Africa was better understood. But a jittery world feared the worst nearly two years after COVID-19 emerged and triggered a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people around the globe.

Florida will host rival Florida State (5-6) with bowl eligibility and bragging rights on the line Saturday. It’s the first time in 40 years that the programs with a combined six national championships will play a winner-in, loser-out regular-season finale. Game time is 12 noon and will be broadcast on ESPN

Federal health regulators say an experimental COVID-19 pill from Merck is effective against the virus, but they will seek input from outside experts on risks of birth defects and other potential problems during pregnancy.  The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of the pill ahead of a public meeting next week where academic and other experts will weigh in on its safety and effectiveness. The agency isn’t required to follow the group’s advice.

Retailers ushered in the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season Friday with bigger crowds than last year in a closer step toward normalcy. But the fallout from the pandemic continues to weigh on businesses and shoppers’ minds.  Buoyed by solid hiring, healthy pay gains and substantial savings, customers are returning to stores and splurging on all types of items. But the spike has also resulted in limited selection across the board as suppliers and retailers have been caught flat-footed.  The rule of thumb this year is, if you see and want it, buy it right then.

A man driving along I-75 in South Florida was suddenly struck by a number of bullets, one of them penetrating his back. The man was able to pull into a gas station and call police.  The man is now in the hospital recovering and the Florida Highway Patrol is investigating who was shooting a gun towards the highway, and why. 

Hundreds of people are headed out shopping this morning.  It’s the traditional start of the holiday shopping season called Black Friday.  Most store, including major big box retailers, were closed yesterday for the Thanksgiving holiday.  But those same retailers have also been offering Black Friday pricing all week long.  If you go, expect big crowds and heavy traffic.  Patience is the name of the game today.

A huge holiday tradition return s.  Giant balloons once again wafted through miles of Manhattan, wrangled by costumed handlers. High school and college marching bands from around the country were back, and so were the crowds at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  After being crimped by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the holiday tradition returned in full Thursday, though with precautions. Parade staffers and volunteers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, though some singers and performers were allowed to shed them. There was no inoculation requirement for spectators, but Macy’s and the city encouraged them to cover their faces.

A federal district judge rejected a stay requested by the Seminole Tribe of Florida late Wednesday after an earlier ruling blocked the tribe’s deal with the state to expand gambling and online sports betting statewide.  Attorneys for the Seminoles argued the tribe would lose significant revenue from online sports betting, saying some of the money would be used to fund tribe programs. But U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected the request, saying the tribe hadn’t shown that it would be irreparably harmed if a stay were not granted.

If you traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday, yesterday was a lul in traffic.  Today all of those travelers will begin heading back home.  If you’re traveling the highways, expect slowdowns in many areas, peaking Sunday.  Airports are also expected to be jammed with holiday travelers making security checkpoints very busy.

A Marion County woman is facing charges in Citrus County after she reportedly wandered into a Citrus County home through a side door, stripped naked, and began sitting on the laps of the homeowners and their guests, taunting them.  Police were called.  35 year old Heather Cruz of Dunnellon was escorted to a waiting squad car where she reportedly attacked arresting officers.  She now faces multiple charges.

The Farmer’s Almanac is warning the US to gear up for a long, cold winter, the longest and coolest we’ve seen in years.  Parts of the deep south could also see some very cold weather this year according to the publication, which has an 80% accuracy rate.

A new survey is showing that pumpkin pie is no longer America’s favorite.  Google Trends did a survey and the new winner is Key Lime Pie.  Key lime is the most googled pie now, with pumpkin coming in second.  Following behind in third place is lemon meringue.   We didn’t even see any listing for pecan pie.