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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

Most U.S. states should hit their omicron variant peak soon, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday as the Bay State and other New England states are already on the surge’s downslope.

In Massachusetts, the daily average of COVID-19 cases has dropped by 62% in recent weeks as the Boston-area coronavirus wastewater data has plunged — a signal that fewer cases are on the way.

Most states across the country should follow this trend soon, said Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, noting that most regions should reach an omicron peak by mid-February.

“Things are looking good,” Fauci said on ABC News “This Week.”

“We don’t want to get overconfident,” he added. “But they look like they’re going in the right direction right now.”

Fauci said he’s “as confident as you can be” about that mid-February prediction.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus … because it has certainly surprised us in the past,” Fauci said.

“But if you look at the patterns that we have seen in South Africa, in the U.K., and in Israel, and … in the Northeast and New England and upper Midwest states, they have peaked and starting to come down rather sharply,” he said. “There are still some states in the southern states and western states that continue to go up.”

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2 killed in Anoka crash that following police pursuit

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2 killed in Anoka crash that following police pursuit

ANOKA, Minn. (AP) — Two men died after fleeing from an attempted traffic stop and later crashing into a pickup truck in Anoka County, sheriff’s officials said.

Police in Coon Rapids tried to make the traffic stop shortly before midnight Tuesday. The driver took off and police pursued the car, but broke off the chase once the vehicle crossed into Anoka.

Officials said the car and pickup collided about a mile away. The force of the crash took down at least three light poles, according to witnesses.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. His passenger died at a nearby hospital. The driver of the pickup was treated for minor injuries. The victims have not been identified.

The crash remains under investigation by the Anoka Police Department, Coon Rapids Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

Inflation is likely to be the most powerful issue working for Republicans in this year’s congressional elections. Public concern over it has been rising fast. Republicans can plausibly blame the administration of President Joe Biden for making the problem worse by spending too much money on a pandemic stimulus program he pushed through Congress last year, and for not taking it seriously as it emerged.

But there isn’t much that Congress can do to affect the course of inflation in the short term. The Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy. Congress can (in principle!) pass legislation to make the economy more productive, but any changes would generally take awhile to have an effect.

That’s only a small political inconvenience for Republicans. Voters are more likely to want to register their anger over inflation than pore over any candidate’s plans to address it. (Elections are a blunt instrument for public control of the government.)

There are also ways that Republicans can contribute to bringing inflation down. If they did, they could both perform a useful service for the country and increase their political advantage on the issue, at least a little.

The first is simply to support monetary tightening. A large portion of recent inflation has been caused by excessive spending throughout the US economy. During the expansion prior to the arrival of Covid-19 two years ago, spending had grown by a bit less than 4% a year. Over the past year it has risen more than 10%.

Even after the Federal Reserve’s mid-March hike in interest rates, spending has been rising fast enough to keep the gap growing between actual spending levels and the pre-Covid trend. By that measure, the Fed has not yet, in effect, tightened at all.

It should be encouraged to tighten money both by raising interest rates further and, maybe more important, by announcing that its goal is to bring spending levels back to the trajectory they were on before the burst of inflation.

Central bankers are sure to face pressure to ease off, especially if tightening leads to higher unemployment. Republicans should exert countervailing pressure, pointing out that getting inflation under control is the only way to achieve sustainable high employment. The Fed has made the eventual tightening more painful by delaying it, and should not delay further. Republicans could also explore legislation to make the stabilization of spending a statutory goal of the Federal Reserve, giving that goal more credibility.

And while no one should oversell how much or how fast policy changes can address inflation by expanding supply, some such changes are worth pursuing. Former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum never made much sense as either a national-security or job-protecting measure, and his tariffs on China have largely failed to achieve their objectives. Abandoning them would, as the Peterson Institute for International Economics puts it, “provide a temporary downward shock to prices.” (It’s worth noting, however, that lifting the tariffs on China would require mounting an argument to win over skeptics.)

Congress could also remove barriers to energy production — something Republicans are already calling for — and to the automation of ports. Senator Mike Lee, the Utah Republican, has a bill that applies deregulation to transportation-sector logjams, and another one to increase housing supply. These measures would probably make the economy a bit more productive even if inflation subsides. They would also provide a way for Congress to show that it is working to bring prices down.

Finally, Republicans should block proposals that would make inflation worse. Many economists think widespread student-debt relief would have this effect, and that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” spending legislation would as well.

Congress could also consider delaying the spending of some of the money it is devoting to infrastructure projects so that more of it happens after labor shortages and supply disruptions ease. That would produce more infrastructure improvement per dollar spent.

This is hardly an exhaustive list. The point is that when Republicans face the question, “What are you going to do about inflation?” they can offer many partial answers. Democrats would be wise to go along with some of these ideas, too, and even to propose them first. But some of them, such as the ones that involve taking on unions, are a more natural fit for Republicans.

All of these political considerations are meaningful, however, only on the margins. No matter what politicians in either party do, the cost of living is going to be front of mind for voters this fall. They’re going to take out their frustrations on the party in power.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

Minnesota will play host to the next two WCHA Final Faceoff championship tournaments, the school announced Wednesday. The 2023 event is scheduled for March 3-4, 2023, at Ridder Arena.

The Gophers won the regular-season WCHA championship last season before being edged by eventual national champion Ohio State in the conference tournament final at Ridder.

The 2025 NCAA Frozen Four is scheduled to be played at Ridder Arena, as well.

GOALIES TO USA CAMP

Gophers junior Makayla Pahl and freshman Skylar Vetter have been selected to attend the 2022 USA Hockey National Goaltending Camp in Plymouth, Mich. They will join 27 other men’s and women’s goaltenders for the May 19-22 camp at USA Hockey Arena.

Pahl recently completed her best season at the U, posting a 9-1-0 record with a 1.70 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 15 games. Lakeville’s Vetter appeared in 11 games in her first collegiate season, going 6-2-0 record with a 1.57 GAA and a .926 save percentage.

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