First US case of omicron variant confirmed in California

WASHINGTON — A person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant, the White House announced Wednesday as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new virus strain.

US panel backs first-of-a-kind COVID-19 pill from Merck

WASHINGTON — A panel of U.S. health advisers on Tuesday narrowly backed a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck, setting the stage for a likely authorization of the first drug that Americans could take at home to treat the coronavirus.

Brazil, Japan report 1st cases of omicron variant

Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm.

US moves to toughen testing requirement for travelers

Washington — The Biden administration is moving to toughen testing requirements for international travelers to the U.S., including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, amid the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Georgia jury hit gun issue on the mark

The multiple guilty verdicts last Wednesday against three white Georgia men who cornered and murdered a Black jogger marked a refreshing turn of justice. A jury drew a much-needed line between stand-your-ground laws and gun-carrying vigilantes who have been emboldened to go on human hunting sprees. The nearly all-white jury decided that spurious assertions of self-defense and false allegations of hostile intent by the victim, Ahmaud Arbery, were no excuse for the reckless actions of defendants Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, William Bryan.

Obituaries for December 1

Lance Kiyoshi Abe, 67, of Hilo died Nov. 9 at Hilo Medical Center. Born in Laupahoehoe, he was retired from the state Department of Human Services, a farmer, worked at Laupahoehoe School, where he coached girls’ basketball, and was a member and elder at Zion’s House of Praise Holiness Church in Hilo. Public visitation 9:30-10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at Dodo Mortuary Chapel. Face masks and social distancing required. Casual attire; no flowers or koden (monetary gifts). Survived by wife, Amy Abe of Hilo; brothers, Randall (Linda) Abe of Kaneohe, Oahu, and Mervyn Abe of Oregon; sister, Joyce Yamamoto of Hilo; mother-in-law, Sueno Saruwatari of Pepeekeo; brother-in-law, Bert Saruwatari of Honolulu; sisters-in-law, Lynn (Glenn) Abe of Honolulu, Faye Saruwatari of Hilo, Gail Saruwatari and Eva Saruwatari of Pepeekeo; nephews, nieces, cousins, grandnephews and grandnieces. Arrangements by Dodo Mortuary.