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Americans are tired, and Omicron is just beginning.

todayDecember 22, 2021

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With days to go before Christmas, Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Of reworking plans to adapt to the latest virus risks. Of searching for at-home tests and not finding them. Of wondering whether after two years of avoiding Covid-19, or surviving it, or getting vaccinated and maybe even boosted, Omicron is the variant they inevitably catch.

A sense of dread about Omicron’s rapid spread — the fastest of any variant yet — has swept through the Northeast and Upper Midwest, which were already swamped with Delta variant cases and hospitalizations. And unease has burgeoned even in states and territories like Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico that had moved past a terrible summer of Delta and, until recently, experienced a relative virus lull.

“I’m mad,” said Mabel De Beunza, a publicist in her early 40s who spent 90 minutes at a drive-through testing line in downtown Miami on Monday after experiencing cold symptoms. No matter what her test result, she had decided against seeing her mother, who is immunocompromised, on Christmas.

Conversations with more than two dozen people across the country revealed that, more than panicked, Americans are exhausted by the emotional pandemic roller coaster and confused by mixed messages from experts and leaders about appropriate precautions.

“We’ve done so much, and still have this,” said Ms. De Beunza, whose family is vaccinated and boosted. “It’s been such a rough year.”

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Much maligned during the pandemic, caroling is back. Outside London pubs, that is.

Last Thursday night, many people in Britain were worrying about the Omicron variant and whether the pandemic was about to disrupt Christmas plans for the second year in a row. But for three carol singers standing outside a bar in south London, there was a more immediate problem: a lack of tenors.Zoë Bonner, 41, a soprano and co-organizer of a caroling pub crawl to raise money for a homeless charity, […]

todayDecember 22, 2021 4