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New COVID cases are on the rise, now topping out at more than 100,000 per day . Several states are ramping up contact tracing as omicron spreads , particularly in the Northeast. The virus may be spreading more rapidly than other variants because, researchers suggest, it may have picked up part of the Omicron variant . Belgium has confirmed a case of a new, highly-mutated COVID variant . The same variant has appeared in Hong Kong , as well. The variant’s spread has prompted the stock market to fall dramatically. Massive protests have broken out across Europe, its citizens fed up with COVID lockdowns . In the US, Florida Republicans have approved a bill that will dramatically limit Biden’s vaccine mandate . Meanwhile, like San Francisco and New York, Los Angeles has enacted a vaccine mandate, but LA’s is much stricter . Most types of businesses and public buildings are covered by the mandate. Hospitalizations due to COVID are on the rise in Colorado , but there are only 100 ICU beds left in the entire state. CDC data reveals that the risk of dying of COVID is 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults . Major hospital systems in Ohio are requiring COVID vaccines for organ transplants , adding to the increasing number of organizations that require vaccines. Southwest has recently become the latest airline to require vaccines , joining an ever-growing number of organizations doing so. In fact, nearly ever major airline is now requiring vaccines for employees. […]