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'We all want this to be over'

·5 min read
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  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    46th and current president of the United States
  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite

Free rapid tests and help for overwhelmed hospitals are coming amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. And winter is here – with a bonus meteor shower.

👋 Heyo! Laura here on the shortest day of the year, bringing you Tuesday's short news.

But first, a beer a day keeps the doctor away? 🍻 A 107-year-old Pennsylvania woman spilled her secrets for a long life: faith in God, good genes and a Yuengling lager every day.

The Short List is a snappy USA TODAY news roundup. Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

Biden announces newest COVID-19 plans

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the purchase of a half-billion, at-home rapid coronavirus tests and the mobilization of 1,000 military medical personnel to overburdened hospitals, as officials confront a surge in infections driven by the omicron variant. The president unveiled the stepped-up measures in a speech from the White House to a nation fatigued by a pandemic that's lasted nearly two years. Americans will not be able to request the at-home tests online until January, meaning they can't access the kits before millions are expected to travel for Christmas. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the federal government is working through details of the program, including whether some groups would be prioritized. "I know you're tired. I know you're frustrated. We all want this to be over," Biden said. "But we're still in it. And this is a critical moment. But we also have more tools than we've ever had before."

The lines are long for coronavirus tests in New York City.
The lines are long for coronavirus tests in New York City.

What to do about the holidays

Worried about the surge? You aren't alone. As COVID-19 cases go up, Americans wonder how to approach the holidays and safely travel and gather with friends and family. The pace of new cases in the USA is up 41% compared with a month ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they develop symptoms, the CDC says. They should still get tested five to seven days after their exposure and wear a mask in indoor public settings for 14 days after exposure or until they get a negative test result. For more tips, read here.

Travelers wait to check into an Air France flight in Miami. Public health officials urge caution as the new omicron COVID-19 variant has become the most dominant strain in the USA.
Travelers wait to check into an Air France flight in Miami. Public health officials urge caution as the new omicron COVID-19 variant has become the most dominant strain in the USA.

What everyone's talking about

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Jury resumes deliberations in Ghislaine Maxwell trial

The jury tasked with considering whether Ghislaine Maxwell is a dangerous predator who recruited teens to be sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein – as prosecutors put it – or the "innocent woman" a defense attorney described her as, continued deliberating Tuesday. Jurors received the case before 5 p.m. Monday after two prosecutors and a defense lawyer delivered their closing arguments over a six-hour period in Maxwell's sex trafficking trial. Two dozen prosecution witnesses testified, including the four women who say they were abused by Epstein with the help of Maxwell when they were teenagers. The defense rested its case Friday after Maxwell told the judge she wouldn't testify.

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell center, confers with defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca before testimony in her sex abuse trial in New York Dec. 8. The British socialite is accused of helping millionaire Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.
In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell center, confers with defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca before testimony in her sex abuse trial in New York Dec. 8. The British socialite is accused of helping millionaire Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.

Shortest day, longest night

Welcome back, winter. The winter solstice, the precise moment at which the Northern Hemisphere is tilted farthest from the sun, is Tuesday. It marks the beginning of astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere and occurs at the same instant everywhere on Earth. Here in the USA, that's 10:59 a.m. EST. Though the solstice marks the astronomical beginning of winter, meteorologists view winter as starting Dec. 1. At the end of the shortest day of the year comes the longest night – with an added bonus. An early Christmas gift will light up the sky in the last celestial event of the year – the Ursid meteor shower. With a bright moon in the background, the annual event is expected to peak Wednesday morning with five to 10 meteors visible per hour, according to NASA. Here's how to watch.

A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower Aug. 11 in Spruce Knob, W.Va.
A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower Aug. 11 in Spruce Knob, W.Va.

Real quick

🥗 Fridge check

Buy Fresh Express products? Check your refrigerator – there's been a recall. The company announced it recalled certain brands of its salad products for possible contamination with listeria. The recalled products were distributed through retailers in 19 states: Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Fresh Express said it launched the recall after Michigan's Department of Agriculture received a positive result for listeria from a test of a package of 9-ounce Sweet Hearts salad mix.

A sample product code on a Fresh Express salad product.
A sample product code on a Fresh Express salad product.

A break from the news

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden's COVID-19 plans, Ghislaine Maxwell trial, winter solstice with a bonus meteor shower. It's Tuesday's news.

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