While you were sleeping, we compiled the biggest stories of the day in one place. Each story has a quick and easy summary, so you're prepared for whatever the day brings. Just click on the links if you want to know more!
1. Florida's coronavirus cases spike to 21,194
Florida reported 21,194 coronavirus residents' cases, the most since Sept. 1 during the height of the surge from the delta variant.
In one week, cases have risen 76,326, which is second only behind New York. Fourteen days ago Florida was 21st with 12,767 cases for the week.
As a result, Universal Orlando is reinstating a mask mandate for all indoor locations within the resort. Masks are also required at Walt Disney World for ages 2 and up.
2. FDA clears Pfizer's anti-COVID-19 pill
The U.S. has authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans can take at home to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.
Pfizer's prescription pill, which it calls Paxlovid, is the first U.S. medication that doesn't require an injection or an IV, a long-awaited milestone in the battle against the virus. But initial supplies will be extremely limited, with just enough to treat tens of thousands of people.
The drug was authorized for high-risk patients who are most likely to get severe illness.
3. College Football Playoff champion could be crowned by forfeit
The College Football Playoff on Wednesday announced a series of sweeping new COVID-19 policies to protect players and coaches and preserve the format of the postseason amid the recent surge of the omicron variant.
Most notably, if one of the four teams selected to the College Football Playoff cannot participate in either semifinal game, that team would be forced to forfeit.
The announcement came on the same day that Texas A&M said it won't play in the Gator Bowl because of COVID-19 issues.
4. Juries still deliberating in Ghislaine Maxwell and Kim Potter trials
Maxwell's jury has ended an abbreviated first week of deliberations due to the holiday without reaching a verdict at the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell.
The jury finished a second full day Wednesday of considering the British socialite's fate by requesting more transcripts of trial testimony.
The jury at suburban Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter’s manslaughter trial for the killing of Black motorist Daunte Wright has completed its third day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.
5. Biden Administration extends freeze on student loan payments
The Biden Administration has extended the moratorium on federal student loan payments until May 1, The Associated Press reports.
Interest rates on student loans will remain at 0% and debt collection efforts will remain suspended.
Payments were slated to resume in February.
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On This Day In History
On December 23, 1888, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from severe depression, cuts off the lower part of his left ear with a razor while staying in Arles, France.
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