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New Year’s Eve in Times Square Still On, With Smaller Crowd

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NEW YORK (AP) — Revelers will still ring in the new year in New York’s Times Square next week, there just won’t be as many of them as usual under new restrictions announced Thursday as the city grapples with a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Viewing areas that normally accommodate about 58,000 people will be limited to about 15,000 to allow for more distancing, and everyone in attendance must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release announcing the changes.

“There is a lot to celebrate and these additional safety measures will keep the fully vaccinated crowd safe and healthy as we ring in the New Year,” de Blasio said, noting the city’s success in getting residents vaccinated while also keeping businesses open.

The added precautions for New Year’s Eve in Times Square were spurred by the rapid spread of the omicron variant in the Big Apple, where lines for testing have snaked around blocks in recent days.

On Wednesday, the city set yet another one-day testing record with 22,808 new cases, though a true comparison to the number of cases during the initial COVID-19 surge in spring 2020 is impossible because tests were very limited at the time.

Because of vaccinations, hospitalizations and deaths from the current surge are far fewer than at the pandemic’s height.

The new wave of cases has led to the cancellation of concerts, sporting events and Broadway shows, but de Blasio has shown a strong preference for having the annual Times Square ball drop go on as planned — the last major event of his eight-year tenure, which ends Jan. 1.

Little more than a month ago, de Blasio gleefully announced that a fully vaccinated crowd of hundreds of thousands of people would be back at the iconic celebration — donning goofy 2022-themed glasses and watching a crystal-clad ball drop at midnight — after it was limited last year to small groups of essential workers.

But that was before omicron caught fire, forcing city officials and event organizers to rethink just how many people they wanted to squeeze into the bright, billboard-lined tourist haven known to some as the Crossroads of the World.

On Tuesday, the Fox network gave its verdict, pulling the plug on a planned live broadcast from the New Year’s Eve event. Other networks plan to air the festivities, including Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC, the stalwart now hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

De Blasio said along with Thursday’s announcement that the city is monitoring the COVID-19 situation and could impose additional precautions if needed. Among the other changes announced Thursday, revelers won’t be allowed into viewing areas until 3 p.m., much later than in past years.

On New Year’s Eve last year, Times Square was mostly empty, with Jennifer Lopez and other artists performing behind police barricades. After vaccines became widely available in the U.S., the city allowed crowds back to the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and other events.

“New York is the best place in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve and now it will be one of the safest against COVID as well,” Mayor-elect Eric Adams said in a written statement endorsing the new precautions. “New Yorkers and visitors alike can now enjoy Times Square and the rest of our city as we ring in 2022.”

Original Source: wsvn.com

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GEM Helps Residents of Miami Gardens Apartments Destroyed in Fire Amid Investigation

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A South Florida nonprofit is lending a helping hand to the nearly 200 people left without a home after a fire destroyed dozens of units at a Miami Gardens apartment building.

7News cameras captured fire marshals with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue inspecting the remains of one of the units at the New World Condominium Apartments that was razed, as they tried to determine what sparked the flames.

Also on hand were volunteers with Global Empowerment Mission.

“We’ve got towels, blankets, pillows and some cash cars to provide their immediate needs,” said Kimberly Bentley’s, GEM’s Director of Field Missions.

Saturday morning, Miami Gardens Police and more than 40 MDFR units responded to the scene of the blaze along the 39500 block of Northwest 177th Street.

“We’re getting numerous calls of people panicking in the building, unknown where the smoke or fire is coming from,” said a dispatcher in radio transmissions.

The flames ripped through 75 apartments and caused part of the roof to collapse, officials said.

“My wife was here. I was at my job,” said a resident who identified himself as Antonio.

Dozens of families were forced out with nothing but the clothes on their back. The building has since been deemed uninhabitable.

Antonio said he has not been able to return to his unit to grab what he can.

“I have to speak with somebody to get us something, I don’t know,” he said.

Antonio was among dozens of residents who returned on Sunday to see what they could salvage as they try and restart.

“Very, very difficult. I need to move, I need tomorrow to find an apartment for rent. Very difficult time,” said Antonio.

Cameras captured Bentley and others with GEM as they took out boxes of supplies out of a truck.

Residents who showed up said they’re happy and thankful, and they acknowledged that the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Fire officials said they suspect roof repairs taking place at the building may have sparked the fire, but the official cause remains under investigation.

Original Post: wsvn.com

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‘Dangerous’ Arctic Air Returns Across Northern Plains, Upper Midwest After Month-long Hiatus

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(CNN) — What has been a mild start to 2023 came crashing to a halt this weekend as winter makes a roaring comeback across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Minneapolis residents have seen a mild January so far — at least by their standards — with temperatures failing to fall below zero this month and averaging about 7 degrees above normal.

“Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills are forecast across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest through early next week,” the Climate Prediction Center said. “Expect much below normal temperatures across the central/northern Plains to interior portions of the Pacific Northwest for the weekend into early next week.”

High temperatures will be in the single digits or even subzero range across much of the northern tier of the United States — between 25 to 40 degrees below normal. Overnight lows will be downright frigid, resulting in wind chill advisories being issued for portions of Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Montana.

“This would be the coldest weather since Christmas for this region, with locations from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota likely remaining below zero for highs Saturday through Monday, and perhaps into Tuesday,” the prediction center said.

These temperatures may come as a shock to many since most of January has been so mild. Chicago and Kansas City are both running more than 9 degrees above normal for the month, and Minneapolis and Oklahoma City are running at least 6 degrees above normal for January.

The dramatic shift from mild temperatures to bitter cold may catch people off guard.

Bozeman, Montana, for example, will go from a high of 33 degrees on Friday to a high of -3 on Sunday — with more than 40 straight hours below zero. Minneapolis will see a high of 33 degrees Friday plummet to a high of 3 degrees Monday. St. Louis will remain milder on Saturday, with a high temperature of 56. On Sunday, however, the high will fall to 36 degrees and eventually reach a low of 16 degrees Monday night.

Western cities will also witness dramatic drops. Denver will go from a high of 30 degrees on Saturday to a high of 7 degrees on Monday.

Add some wind, snow and ice

Air temperatures are not the only concern this weekend. Across much of the High Plains and Midwest, winds will be gusting 20 to 30 mph. While that may not seem very high, it doesn’t take much for frostbite to set in when the air temperature is already so cold.

“Wind chills could reach 40 below at times for these areas. Highs in the 0 to 10 degree range may extend as far south as northeast Colorado and northern Kansas,” the prediction center said.

At that range, exposed areas of skin can experience frostbite in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Another concern from that wind is its impact on snow storms. Blowing snow and reduced visibility will make travel difficult at times.

“The upper level wave train has another snow maker for us this weekend,” said the National Weather Service office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “There will be a good period of light to moderate snow for much of southern Wisconsin from midday Saturday through Saturday evening.”

Winter conditions started to affect travel in parts of the Midwest on Friday. A portion of Interstate 39/90 between the cities of Beloit and Janesville in Wisconsin was shut down due to an 85-car pileup Friday afternoon, according to the WIsconsin State Patrol.

At least 21 people were taken to area hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

From Saturday into Sunday, snow is expected to spread from the Cascades to the Rockies and into the Great Lakes region. Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in place for over 18 million people.

Generally speaking, in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and much of Iowa there will be 2 to 4 inches of snow, though these quick but intense snow burst events make it difficult to pinpoint who will see the highest snowfall amounts.

“An additional narrow swath of 4-6″ of snow, with locally higher totals, is forecast from northern Iowa through Lower Michigan by early Sunday,” the prediction center said.

While snow will be predominant a little farther south, along the Iowa/Missouri border, according to the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, the office warns that it will be possible to see “a brief period of freezing drizzle and very light glazing of ice Saturday afternoon.”

Snow will also fall this weekend across the Intermountain West. Most areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and northern Utah will see light to moderate snow through Monday. However, the heaviest snow will occur in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Colorado where multiple feet of snow are possible.

Original Article: wsvn.com

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AP Source: Dolphins Hire Vic Fangio As Defensive Coordinator

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(AP) — The Miami Dolphins have reached a deal with former Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio to become their defensive coordinator, a person familiar with the hire told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

Fangio, who had been one of the most sought-after defensive coordinator candidates this offseason, was Denver’s head coach from 2019-21, going 19-30.

The Dolphins fired defensive coordinator Josh Boyer after three seasons with the team.

Miami finished the season ranked 18th in total defense, 27th in passing defense and tied for 24th on third downs as the team dealt with various injuries.

The 64-year-old Fangio, a respected defensive mind, figures to mesh well with Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel and the talent Miami has on defense.

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins had a career year, totaling 98 tackles. Linebacker Jaelan Phillips and rookie cornerback Kader Kohou both had standout seasons.

Original Post: wsvn.com

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