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Omicron is starting to slow, Biden faces the media, NY AG wants Trump to testify

Good day! It’s Wednesday, Jan. 19. Sunrise in Boston was at 7:08 a.m. and sunset will be at 4:41 p.m. for 9 hours and 33 minutes of sunlight. The waning moon is 97 percent full.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers up a recipe for making your own underarm deodorant that it says does a “decent job” of controlling odor. It doesn’t involve foraging in the forest or chopping down anything with that axe that we all keep by the back door. You mix baking soda, arrowroot powder or cornstarch, and unrefined coconut oil. You can opt to add an essential scent oil such as citrus or sandalwood in case you’re as troubled by the “decent job” part of this recipe as I am.

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What’s it like outside? Really windy, especially on the South Shore and Cape, but warmer than recent days: low to mid-40s. Tomorrow there could be snow early, including during rush hour, followed by dropping temps. Sheesh, you’d think it was winter around here.

Hey, sport: I won’t rehash the Patriots’ embarrassing loss to the Bills, so instead here’s a feel-good story about the retirement of the number belonging to former Bruin Willie O’Ree, the first Black player in the NHL.

The streaky Celtics host the Hornets at the Garden (7:30 p.m., ESPN, NBC Sports Boston, and 98.5 FM). The Bruins are on the Garden ice tomorrow night against the Capitals (7 p.m., ESPN+ and 98.5 FM).

Some of the big names that have advanced at the Australian Open include No. 1 seed and Aussie native Ashleigh Barty, No. 13 Naomi Osaka of Japan, Madison Keys of the US, and No. 6 seed Rafael Nadal.


Today’s US coronavirus / COVID-19 numbers in the US

From the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

Confirmed US cases: 68,013,571

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Confirmed US deaths: 855,647

From The New York Times COVID-19 map and case count:

VACCINATIONS

Fully vaccinated: 63 percent of all Americans

Partially vaccinated: 12 percent of all Americans

No shots: 25 percent of all Americans

Seven-day average of daily vaccinations: 1.16 million

A month ago: 1.56 million

INFECTIONS

New cases Monday and yesterday: 1,178,403

A month ago: 75,883

HOSPITALIZATIONS

Yesterday: 152,427 people infected with COVID-19 were in the hospital

A month ago: 68,992 people

DEATHS

Yesterday: 2,990 Americans died from COVID-19

A month ago: 158 Americans died in one day


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has made a mini-career out of violating COVID-19 restrictions that he himself imposed so that he can party with staffers, is easing those restrictions, saying that the surge in infections from the Omicron variant has peaked in the UK.

In the US, it’s a decidedly mixed bag. Since last week, cases have dropped more than 30 percent in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, and by more than 10 percent in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Yet Kentucky is experiencing its highest rate of infections of the entire pandemic.

Even though the US still has hundreds of thousands of new infections every day, an unprecedented number of people in the hospital, and about 2,000 deaths a day, most experts expect this surge to follow the pattern of the others and really start to recede early next month.

But what then? Another variant followed by another round of infections and deaths? Remember, 25 percent of Americans still haven’t received a single vaccine dose. The COVID deniers generally don’t smarten up until they’re gasping for breath on a ventilator or have to sit by helplessly as a parent, spouse, or friend suffer and die.

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By the way, a new study out of South Africa shows that the omicron variant appears to be far more dangerous for kids under age 4 than all previous strains of the virus, with 49 percent higher hospitalizations.

Speaking of catching COVID, if you haven’t ordered your four free at-home rapid tests yet, courtesy of Joe Biden, you can do so here. It’s easy. And starting next week, Biden is giving away 400 million N95 masks.


Biden is holding a rare press conference at 4 p.m. today, and there will be tough questions from a skeptical press corps. Democrats are hoping he’ll emphasize his accomplishments:

-- The $1.9 trillion Covid relief deal that put thousands of dollars in the pockets of laid-off workers, devastated companies, and families, helping to slash child poverty.

-- The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that will repair the nation’s roads and bridges.

-- A successful vaccination push: When Biden took office, about 2 million Americans had received the relatively new vaccine. He launched a massive vaccination campaign, and today, 209 million people are fully vaccinated.

-- Even though inflation has increased, the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.4 percent to 3.9 percent, and he has created 6 million jobs.

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However, he was unable to convince two Democratic senators to kill the Senate filibuster in order to pass an election reform bill and his Build Back Better plan, and his popularity has plunged. He and his aides will likely do both bills piecemeal. But how he deals with COVID fatigue among Americans and counter conservatives’ disinformation campaigns will be his biggest test.


The New York attorney general, Letitia James, wants to take testimony from Trump and two of his kids -- Donald Jr. and Ivanka -- to try to find out what they knew about the Trump Organization cooking the books to inflate the value of assets when they wanted loans and deflating them when they were paying taxes.


Meanwhile, the US House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 have obtained the phone records of Trump’s other son, Eric, and Don Jr.’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The records show the date, time, and length of incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, but not the content of those calls and messages. They will help committee members figure out who was talking to whom when on that day as well as on the days leading up to the insurrection.


Is there any doubt that Russia is going to invade Ukraine? Putin already has sent 100,000 troops to the border, and they’re not there to go to a Sandals resort. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who’s in Ukraine, says Russia could quickly ramp up to 200,000 troops.

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Finally, here are more of your jokes and riddles to help us get through any tough times we may be facing.

The Rev. Charlotte Wells of Pendleton, Ore.: How do you keep a bagel from getting away?

Put lox on it.

Marria Lerra of Arlington, Mass.: A priest, a rabbit, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender asks the rabbit, “What’ll ya have?”

The rabbit says, “I dunno. I’m only here because of Autocorrect.”(Credit to Marlo Thomas)

Ronald Zack: What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo?

A hippo is very heavy; a zippo is a little lighter.

Patti Powell of Little Rock, Ark.: My favorite relative Uncle Huey died in November. He and I shared a bizarre sense of humor that almost no one else got. This was our favorite joke. We’d shriek with laughter every time one would tell it to another. No one else ever thought it was funny but us.

What do Santa Claus and Jimmy Carter have in common?

Both have long white beards except for Jimmy Carter.

I can hear him laughing from heaven.

Rosemary Verri of Sudbury, Mass.: I did some financial planning and it looks like I can retire at 62 and live for 11 minutes.

Gail Kleven Gelb: Here is my silly joke that I made up about 38 years ago when my son/law partner was very young:

What do you call an insincere small horse?

My Little Phony! (Our three granddaughters now just groan…)

Herb Krauss of Holliston: The SCOTUS sent out a notice that there wouldn’t be a Living Nativity in DC this year. They couldn’t find three wise men, and were still searching for a virgin, but they had plenty of asses for the stable.

Laura Donovan of Kittery, Maine: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Richard Trudeau: A guy has hemorrhoids. His doctor prescribes suppositories. He doesn’t know what a suppository is; he chokes them down with a glass of water. Two days later, there’s no improvement, and he’s hopping mad. He calls the doctor and says, “Doc, for all the good these things are doing, I might as well be shoving them up my butt!”

Joan McNerney: Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.

Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.

Karen Shepard of Arlington, Mass.: Here is a riddle: What word looks the same upside down?

Answer: SWIMS

Mary Helen Sprecher of Alabama: What happens if you don’t pay the exorcist?

You get repossessed.(ba-dum-bum-tsss!)

Maryanne Lopreato: It became clear that Giovanni was dying. He was lying in bed, just waiting for the Lord to take him. Suddenly, the most wonderful, delicious smell came wafting through his bedroom. He recognized the smell of his wife’s renowned ricotta cookies.

With every ounce of his being, Giovanni got out of bed, made his way down the stairs, and literally crawled into the kitchen. Just as his hand reached the counter for a cookie, he felt a whack from a wooden spoon.

”Put that cookie down; those are for the funeral.”

Philip Webber: From my 10-year-old grandson:

Q. What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mount Everest was discovered?

A. Mount Everest.

Ginny McNamara of Ireland: My husband’s joke:

John was sick in bed. His wife Mary was making him soup. John was getting fed up as it was taking a long time.

“Mary,” he shouted, “what are you doing?”

”I’m making the chicken soup,” Mary yelled back.

“Well,” John said, “you might as well make him sandwiches while you’re at it it’s taking you so long.”

Jerry Nevins of New Haven, Conn.: What’s the difference between weather and climate?

You can’t weather a tree, but you can climate.

Cathy Hazeltine Fallon: Heard a doctor on TV last week say that to have inner peace, we should always finish things we start. So tonight, in fine Christmas spirit, I looked through my house to find things I’d started and hadn’t finished.

I finished off a bottle of merlot, a bottle of chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiumun srciptuns, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how feckin fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to yor frends who need inner piss. An telum u luvum. And two al hve a Heppy New ears

Gillian Stacey: What did the doctor say to the gingerbread man with a sore knee?

”Have you tried icing it?”

Debbie Eliason: What did one hat say to the other?

”You wait here. I’ll go on a head.”

Mo Mehlsak of South Portland, Maine: Here’s a groaner that happened to land in my inbox, courtesy of a cousin in Kentucky:

Two kids are in a hospital lying on a stretcher next to each other outside the operating room. The first kid leans over and asks, “What are you in here for?”

The second kid says, “I’m getting my tonsils out. I’m a little nervous.”

The first kid says, “You’ve got nothing to worry about. I had that done when I was 4. They put you to sleep and when you wake up, they give you lots of ice cream. It’s a breeze.”

The second kid then asks, “What are you in here for?”

The first kid says, “A circumcision.”

The second kid replies, “Whoa, good luck, buddy. I had that done when I was born and I couldn’t walk for a year.”

Trish McLaughlin: My favorite joke lately is one I heard when Norm MacDonald the comedian passed away. Not sure where he got it, but here goes:

A moth goes to a podiatrist. The podiatrist is examining his feet when the moth starts telling the podiatrist all his troubles. The podiatrist finally stops the moth and says politely, “Why didn’t you go to a psychiatrist for all these troubles?”

he moth replies, “Your light was on.”

Heather Johnson: What did the fish say when he ran into a wall?

Dam!


More Friday!


Thanks for reading. I didn’t realize so many of my readers were cornballs! E-mail comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa. See you Friday.

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Teresa M. Hanafin can be reached at teresa.hanafin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @BostonTeresa.