News Wrap: Flu hospitalizations skyrocket in the U.S.

In our news wrap Monday, the CDC reported that U.S. hospitalizations for the flu are the highest they've been in a decade this early in the season, Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize its updated COVID booster for children 6 months to 4 years old, a three-day general strike has begun in Iran, and 10 men went on trial in Belgium for the 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The U.S. Supreme Court is facing a major decision on religion and LGBTQ rights.

    The justices today heard a case involving a Christian graphic artist in Colorado who objects to designing wedding Web sites for same-sex couples. She says artists should not have to do work that goes against their faith. We will have more on this after the news summary.

    In the day's other news: U.S. hospitalizations for the flu are the highest they have been in a decade this early in the season. The CDC reported that surge today, and said 14 young people have died of the flu so far. The agency also said large numbers of other respiratory cases are adding to the stress on hospitals.

    Pfizer asked the FDA today to authorize its updated COVID booster for children 6 months to 4 years old. The reformulated vaccine targets the Omicron subvariants. It also offers increased protection against new COVID strains.

    China's move to ease strict COVID rules is accelerating, amid rare protests and mounting economic damage. In Beijing today, commuters were allowed to travel on buses and subways without a virus test for the first time in months. Authorities in Shanghai announced similar steps, which some saw as gradual, but welcome.

  • Shen Xiaowen, Shanghai Resident (through translator):

    I am not particularly touched by the efforts. After all, we still need a test done within 72 hours for work and within 48 hours for dining.

    From my perspective, it didn't open up that much. But it's a small step and can be regarded as overall progress.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Other reports said the ruling Communist Party could release new nationwide rules this week.

    In Ukraine, government officials say a new volley of Russian missiles killed at least four people and cut power again in much of the country. Shells blasted huge craters as they tore up residential areas, although Kyiv said its air defenses shot down most of the missiles.

    Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin drove across a repaired bridge linking Russia to Crimea. It was damaged by a truck bomb in October.

    A new three-day general strike has begun in Iran, with anti-government protesters calling for shops to close. Some store owners in Tehran heeded the call today, despite official warnings that they'd be arrested. Others said they can't afford to close, but that they support the protesters.

  • Speaker (through translator):

    This is a legitimate demand, and they should be heard. If society is divided and people regularly attack each other, not only will the situation not improve, but we will go backward.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The protests erupted in September after a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody. Shed been arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely.

    Ten men went on trial in Belgium today for the 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels. The Islamic State group claimed the attacks that killed 32 people and injured more than 300 at the Brussels Airport and a subway station. Nine of the accused entered court, with a 10th being tried in absentia. They face murder and other charges. The trial could last six months or longer.

    In Indonesia, entire villages are buried and key bridges destroyed after a volcano erupted Sunday on Java. Ash and debris from Mount Semeru covered roads and homes. In the aftermath, people had to dig out their belongings and evacuate livestock. So far, there are no reports of deaths.

    Back in this country, tens of thousands of people in Central North Carolina faced a third night without electricity after one or more gunmen attacked two power stations on Saturday. Crews worked today to repair the substations. Officials said it could take until Thursday to restore power to the affected area, which is southwest of Raleigh. There's no word on what motivated the attack.

    And, on Wall Street, stocks sank after growth in the service sector raised new doubts about controlling inflation. Major indices fell between 1 percent and 2 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 482 points to close at 33947. The Nasdaq fell 221 points. And the S&P 500 gave up nearly 73.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political headlines; drag queen events are increasingly targeted by right-wing demonstrators; a mother and son who are both poet laureates work to inspire others; plus much more.

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