For a week, the emerging Omicron variant has rattled the world. Here are today’s top headlines on this new variant!

Happening in the World: On Monday, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned travel bans enacted against South Africa and neighboring countries in response to the new Omicron variant. Mr. Ramaphosa argued that the bans would not prevent the variant and would further damage the country’s economy. The US, UK, and EU are currently among the nations that have imposed travel bans. The WHO has urged against countries hastily imposing such bans due to the negative effects on “global solidarity.” Over the past few days, Omicron has been detected in several countries, including the UK, Germany, Australia, and Israel (BBC).

Happening in the US: The CDC strengthened its COVID-19 booster shot recommendations on Monday, recommending that everyone 18 and older receive a booster shot after completing their first course of COVID-19 vaccination. Earlier this month, the CDC recommended boosters only for adults over age 50 while allowing people above the age of 18 to get the additional dose if they wish. These increased recommendations reflect the potential threat of the new Omicron variant. The US has not yet flagged an Omicron case, though COVID-19 cases are currently averaging at 90,000 cases daily (WSJ).

Happening in NYC: Yesterday, New York City issued a public health advisory that recommends all residents wear a mask indoors and in public settings in response to the recently discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19. Mayor Bill de Blasio and city health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi announced the update yesterday, which falls short of a full mask mandate. The advisory is similar to a previous mask recommendation issued by the city in August during a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant (Gothamist).

Happening in Our Community: Interested in how social media can be a force for good in our society? Today from 12 to 1 pm, join Richard Greenberg and Michael Seiler—founders of Torch, a social media intelligence platform for the civil sector—for a fascinating presentation on how nonprofits, elected officials, and activists are using social media platforms to raise awareness on various issues. Register here for this online event, which is part of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs’ Food for Thought policy lecture series.

lovely vaccines via bwarchives