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In our news wrap Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block New York state's COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers. Sheriff's investigators in Houston, Texas, searched for a gunman, after a drive-by shooting killed one person and wounded at least 13. The Biden administration proposed building 500,000 charging stations nationwide for electric vehicles.
In the day's other news: The United States passed 50 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with deaths near 800,000. That came as California reimposed a mask mandate in indoor public spaces amid rising cases caused by the new Omicron variant.
Separately, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block New York state's COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers. And the U.S. Air Force discharged 27 people for refusing to get vaccinated. That's believed to be a first for any of the armed services.
Meanwhile, in Britain, people lined up at vaccination centers for booster shots, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the new Omicron variant is spreading fast.
Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister:
Sadly, at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron.
So, I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that's something we need to set on one side and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.
British health officials now predict that the Omicron variant will surpass Delta as the dominant strain in a matter of days.
Sheriff's investigators in the Houston area searched today for a gunman after a drive-by shooting killed one person and wounded at least 13. The gunfire erupted Sunday evening in Baytown. A crowd there was held — was holding a vigil for a man shot and killed in a previous incident.
In Hong Kong, a court sentenced media tycoon Jimmy Lai to 13 months in jail. He was charged with promoting a vigil that marked the anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989. Lai is already serving another jail term for participating in pro-democracy protests.
Back in this country, the Biden administration proposed building 500,000 charging stations nationwide for electric vehicles. States will start construction next year using $5 billion included in the new infrastructure law.
Vice President Harris laid out the strategy today at a charging facility in Maryland. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joined in.
Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary:
We have to get these charging stations out in every pocket of the country, particularly in areas where the private sector has not felt it was to their best advantage to go, so, in rural areas, in poorer areas, where we haven't seen a penetration of electric vehicles. We got to get them everywhere.
President Biden wants electric vehicles to account for half of all new car and truck sales by 2030.
A powerful storm moved across much of drought-stricken California today with drenching rain, high winds and heavy mountain snow. In Northern California, snowplows cleared roads in Lassen National Park on Sunday. The system could dump eight feet of snow at high elevations. Southern California could see flooding and mudslides.
There's a tentative settlement involving sexual abuse victims in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. Attorneys say that a major insurer will contribute $800 million into a trust fund for some 82,000 claimants. The fund, which includes funds already gathered, would then total more than $2.6 billion. That is the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history.
And on Wall Street, new jitters about the latest COVID variant sent major stock indexes down nearly 1 percent or more. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 320 points to close at 35651. The Nasdaq fell 217 points. The S&P 500 dropped 43.
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