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Illinois confirms state’s first case of Omicron COVID-19 variant

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Illinois confirms state’s first case of Omicron COVID-19 variant

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Tuesday that the state’s first known Omicron COVID-19 variant case is a Chicago resident.

Health officials add that the resident was fully vaccinated. As of Tuesday, the resident is in self-isolation, and contact tracing is being performed.

In a Tuesday question and answer seminar on Facebook, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she anticipated the omicron variant’s arrival in Illinois in the coming days.

“Absolutely, expect that it will be detected in Chicago or Illinois even in the next day or two,” Arwady said.

Arwady said Covid cases are now averaging more than 800 over the last week, meaning there’s a ‘very high risk’ of COVID-19 transmission — up more than 180% since Nov. 1, when fewer than 300 cases a day were reported. 

Chicago’s positivity rate is also up to 4.1%. At the beginning of November, it was just 1.6%.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is working on action moving forward.

“The City and CDPH continue to closely monitor the Omicron variant and work with medical experts to better inform our residents,” Lightfoot said.

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Josh Allen, Bills downplay significance of destroying Patriots in historic Wild Card win

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Josh Allen, Bills downplay significance of destroying Patriots in historic Wild Card win

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As the final minutes ticked off the clock of his team’s 47-17 trouncing of the Patriots, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott allowed himself to take in the atmosphere.

For the better part of the last two decades, Buffalo had to endure the suffering of the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady-led Patriots’ dynasty. They owned the Bills like no other franchise. But over the last two seasons of the post-Brady era, the changing of the guard has been swift atop the AFC East.

Saturday night’s demolition of the Pats — one of the worst losses of Belichick’s coaching career — was the loudest stamp yet on a new era. The Pats allowed 47 points, the most of the Belichick era, and it was their third worst playoff loss in franchise history.

A rowdy and boisterous crowd at Highmark Stadium — the Bills’ first home playoff game since 1995 in which full capacity was allowed — under frigid conditions was just further proof. The dominant victory didn’t wipe all of Buffalo’s pain of the last 20 years away, but it was clear that it meant something more to their fanbase.

“I’m more happy for our fans,” McDermott said. “It’s not often that a coach can enjoy the last six minutes of the game and look up into the stands and see the fans enjoying it at home. I’m happy for them more than anything.”

But to the Bills players? The Patriots were just another opponent in their path.

Certainly, they understood the significance. They know the history. Prior to the 2020 season, the Bills were 5-35 against the Pats in the Belichick era. Consistent misery.

GIven all that, though, they didn’t take any extra pride in embarrassing the Pats on a big stage in the playoffs.

“It didn’t matter who we played, we were going to try to come out and dominate,” said Bills safety Micah Hyde. “I think it’s big for people in this community, people who are out there to be part of that game against that opponent just because we know the history and we know what’s happened for the last 20-plus years. We just wanted to come out here and play our game. It wasn’t about an exact opponent.”

The Bills did acknowledge that last month’s 14-10 Patriots victory at Highmark Stadium — a game the Pats dominated at the line of scrimmage — didn’t sit right with them. Defensive end Jerry Hughes said “it was a little bit on my mind.”

Jordan Poyer, though, insisted there wasn’t much of a carryover effect.

“I don’t think either of those games meant anything coming into this game,” the safety said of the two regular-season meetings. “We just wanted to go out there and be us. Execute at a high level. We felt like we were the better team and that’s what we showed tonight.”

The Bills stayed grounded in the moment. Even McDermott, who was criticized for some of the comments he made after last month’s loss, stayed humble.

“For us as a team this year, it’s one game,” McDermott said. “That’s a good football team, and they’ve been at the top for so long. I have a lot of respect for them. We just have to keep moving on.”

Josh Allen carried that respect forward, too. The Bills quarterback, who threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns in a surgical performance, was spotted after the game offering seemingly encouraging words for Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who played well in a losing effort.

“I’ll keep that private between me and him, but he’s a heck of a player,” Allen said.

Allen echoed the words of his teammates who were happy for the fans on Saturday night. Of course, he wasn’t around when the Pats were handing the Bills perennial beatings like the one seen here on Saturday. He’s now won four of his last five matchups against the Patriots.

“It feels good for the fans,” Allen said. “I know that. I’m glad we could give that to them, but at the end of the day, it’s a playoff game that we advanced on. It doesn’t matter what we did this week, or last week, or the week before. It matters what we do going forward.”

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Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’

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Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In a small, windowless room neighboring the visitors locker room at Highmark Stadium, with temperatures outside drawing close to zero degrees, the Patriots were forced to confront the cold reality of their season-ending loss.

It had been record-setting in all the wrong ways.

Downed 47-17 by the Bills in the Wild Card round, the Patriots suffered their worst playoff loss of the Bill Belichick era, the third-worst in franchise history. They allowed the most points of any game in the Belichick era, and fourth-most in team history. And the Bills became the first NFL team ever to not record a punt, turnover or field goal attempt in a game.

So what did the Patriots make of their stunning defeat, their fourth loss in five weeks?

Bill Belichick

“Congratulate Buffalo on the win tonight. Obviously, they did a great job and we just couldn’t keep up with them tonight. Certainly deserve the win. Well-coached, executed well, and we just couldn’t do much of anything.”

S Devin McCourty 

“It is what it is. Obviously not our best game. Sucks to end the season that way. Credit to them, obviously. I don’t think we got a stop on defense tonight. So just not how you want to end the season, how you want to play the game.”

McCourty on the defensive performance:

“We practiced all week, we shouldn’t really perform like that. So, (it’s) embarrassing.”

QB Mac Jones

“I think obviously we didn’t play how we wanted to play, and every game’s different. We didn’t have a chance to win the game, and it starts with me. Just getting momentum early, and not putting ourselves in that position. OF course it’s not how we wanted it to be. Like I said, I could’ve played better, and a lot of guys would agree with me that we can push each other harder to get that product on the field. And I think there will be a lot of strides tis offseason to get there, working together however we can, and that’s gonna show up next year.”

LB Matt Judon

“It was just kind of their night. They were hitting on all cylinders and sometimes you’ve just gotta give credit to the other team. It just sucks when you can’t play no more. It really sucks.”

C David Andrews

“It wasn’t good enough. And hats off to them. They played a really good game, and got behind early and just too much. I don’t know.”

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Caring for a husband who treated you poorly

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Top 10 paid Massachusetts public employees and overtime high earners

Dear Abby: A year and a half ago, I separated from my husband because I was being neglected, not respected and mistreated emotionally. During the separation, he had to have surgery and needed to be taken care of while he healed. I went back because, as his wife, I felt obligated to do the right thing.

I have tried to move forward and restore my marriage, but I still don’t feel loved or appreciated. In the back of my mind, I can’t forget the way he treated me in the past. I feel stuck because he isn’t working and doesn’t plan on working again. He says he’s not able to, but I believe he could do something that’s not strenuous. How do I find my happiness and still do the right thing?

— Conflicted in the South

Dear Conflicted: Have you told your husband how you feel — about everything? If you have and nothing has changed, make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what your obligations may be to a husband who is no longer self-supporting.

If he has no income, you may have to provide for him financially from now on. For some women, this might mean remaining unhappily married but living their own lives to the extent they can, and not relying on their spouse for emotional or any other support.

Dear Abby: I have to meet my fiance’s adult children. They are not happy he’s in a relationship since their mom’s death two years ago. I’m very nervous about it, and so is he. What do we do?

— Taking the Next Step

Dear Taking: You meet them, and do your best to relax and be friendly and open with them. Understand they are still grieving the loss of their beloved mother, and be prepared to do a lot of listening. Refrain from physical displays of affection with your fiance until they get to know you.

If it becomes necessary, their father should be prepared to make clear to them that you two are going to be married and, while they do not have to “love” you, he expects them to treat you with courtesy, respect and kindness.

Dear Abby: Is it customary to give a house cleaner or cleaning service lunch or offer them food if they are doing an extensive cleaning job? I ask because my mother-in-law hired a cleaning crew. She watches my infant daughter during the day. She doesn’t cook or clean, although I pay her. Well, she gave the crew lunch. Mind you, she didn’t ask me if it was OK or if I wanted the leftovers for my own lunch. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m wondering if this is typical.

— Cleaning Crew Lunch

Dear Cleaning Crew: Let me put it this way: It is intelligent and hospitable to offer lunch if you want a happy, energetic cleaning crew who look forward to coming back. The practice is NOT uncommon.

P.S. If there are leftovers you would like to have for lunch, take them with you before the housekeepers arrive.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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