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Why are the shelves empty?

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My cats are annoyed that I can't reliably find their favorite canned food. Could the omicron-driven surge be slowing down? And a Florida middle schooler reeled in not one, but two fishing world records.

👋 I'm Laura. You're you. It's Wednesday, so here's the news!

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Shortages grow more widespread – but the next one is anybody's guess

The new year hasn't stopped food shortages, which have grown more acute at grocery stores as omicron spreads and winter storms piled on to the supply chain struggles and labor shortages. Produce and meat are affected, as well as packaged goods such as cereal. Is there anything we should stock up on? Curt Covington, senior director of institutional credit at AgAmerica, said the trends for specific food shortages are intermittent and varied. “Shortages depend on the item, store and region of the country,” Covington said. “Shortages can be driven by supply chain issues, consumer behavior or environmental factors, so it’s hard to pinpoint what will be affected next.”

Shelves in the cereal aisle are partially empty at a grocery in Cranberry Township, Pa., on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.
Shelves in the cereal aisle are partially empty at a grocery in Cranberry Township, Pa., on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

Late Sen. Harry Reid lies in state at US Capitol

Congress honored late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where he will lie in state. Reid, who served Nevada in the upper chamber for three decades, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2018. He died Dec. 28 at age 82. The longest-serving senator in Nevada's history, Reid presided as majority leader from 2007 to 2015. At a ceremony, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted Reid's decades of work in the Capitol and said this is "where his portrait hangs, in these hallowed halls, offering a source of strength and inspiration to us all." The tradition of using the Capitol Rotunda to pay tribute to distinguished Americans began in 1852. Lying in state is an honor that has been bestowed on only 35 people in 169 years.

The casket of former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., arrives in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
The casket of former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., arrives in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

What everyone's talking about

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Has omicron surge 'turned a corner'?

America's tally of new COVID-19 cases ticked down slightly for the first time since Christmas, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The country reported 5.23 million cases in the week ending Tuesday, down from 5.28 million cases in the seven-day period ending Monday. The earlier tally probably included coronavirus tests deferred into that week from a long holiday weekend. U.S. case counts are up 34% from a week ago, and on Tuesday, 47 states reported higher case counts than a week earlier – but there are encouraging signs. Boston has been a hot spot, but Dr. Mark Siedner of Massachusetts General Hospital said there are early signs the city has "turned a corner." One of those signs is a wastewater tracking system – virus particles found in wastewater are no longer infectious but can be measured and can reflect trends among people contributing to the wastewater.

Cars line up for coronavirus testing at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., after positive cases were up more than 30% in the state.
Cars line up for coronavirus testing at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., after positive cases were up more than 30% in the state.

Prince Andrew suit goes ahead despite Epstein deal

A federal judge gave the green light Wednesday to a lawsuit against Prince Andrew by an American woman who says he sexually abused her when she was 17. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that Andrew's lawyers failed in challenging the constitutionality of the lawsuit Virginia Giuffre filed against him last year. His lawyers had said the lawsuit lacked specificity and was disqualified by a deal she reached in 2009 with lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein. The lawsuit by Giuffre, 38, alleges the Duke of York, 61, Queen Elizabeth II's second son, raped and sexually assaulted her in New York in 2001 when she was 17. She claims that Andrew's friend Epstein trafficked her to him and that the prince knew it. The prince has vehemently denied Giuffre's accusations.

Virginia Giuffre sued British royalty.
Virginia Giuffre sued British royalty.

Real quick

A big fish story

Nicholas Fano, 12, of Palm City, Florida, is part of a family that loves fishing. One catch by the seventh grader stands out above the rest. A jack crevalle fish Fano caught last year was awarded two fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association. Fano and friend Brady Hyre, 13, cast their lines on a lazy, warm Saturday afternoon in late October, and soon it became apparent he'd hooked something big. The huge jack nearly bottomed the scale at 58 pounds, 8 ounces – heavier than the 30-pound and 50-pound line class world records. Read the story of the world record jack here.

Nicholas Fano, 12, fishes off a dock at his home in Palm City, Fla., on Jan. 7. On Oct. 30, 2021, Fano caught a 58-pound, 8-ounce jack crevalle in Bessey Creek, earning him two fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association.
Nicholas Fano, 12, fishes off a dock at his home in Palm City, Fla., on Jan. 7. On Oct. 30, 2021, Fano caught a 58-pound, 8-ounce jack crevalle in Bessey Creek, earning him two fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shortages, Sen. Harry Reid, omicron surge, Prince Andrew. It's Wednesday's news.

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