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COVID-19 live updates: WHO warns of rising cases of omicron sub-variant

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.6 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 868,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 63.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jan 25, 6:06 pm
All Super Bowl attendees to get KN95 mask

Every attendee of next month's Super Bowl in Los Angeles will receive a KN95 mask, health officials said Tuesday.

Additionally, "safety team members" will remind fans to keep their masks on unless they are eating or drinking, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a county Board of Supervisors meeting.

Attendees at the Super Bowl Experience will also receive a free at-home rapid test kit, Ferrer said, with messaging to test before the big game on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium.

The county expects to distribute over 60,000 take-home kits during the Super Bowl Experience, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12.

-ABC News' Jennifer Watts

Jan 25, 5:33 pm
New York school mask mandate allowed to remain in effect for now

New York state’s school mask mandate can remain in effect while a challenge to the order plays out in court, after an appellate judge issued a stay Tuesday against a lower court ruling that had struck it down.

"These measures are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement Tuesday after the judge granted the state's motion to keep the mandate in place. "We will not stop fighting to protect New Yorkers, and we are confident we will continue to prevail."

A court hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday morning.

At least 20 districts across Long Island had immediately ditched their mask mandates after a judge in Nassau County said Monday that state education officials overstepped their authority when they reinstituted the mask mandate amid a winter surge in coronavirus cases.

The state education department has instructed school districts to keep the mandate in place, requiring all staff and students in pre-K through 12th grade to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

-ABC News' Aaron Katersky

Jan 25, 4:55 pm
Omicron estimated to account for 99.9% of new US cases

The omicron variant is estimated to account for 99.9% of all new cases in the U.S. as of Jan. 22, according to the CDC.

In early December, omicron was estimated to make up just 0.6% of new cases.

Delta now accounts for 0.1% of new cases nationally, forecasters estimate.

These estimates are the results of CDC modeling using recently available data.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 25, 4:40 pm
Weekly reported cases set new record at more than 21 million

Over 21 million new weekly cases were reported across the globe -- the most recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

The U.S. (4,215, 852 new cases -- a 24% decrease from the previous week) reported the most, followed by France (2,443,821 new cases -- a 21% increase).

The U.S. also recorded 10,795 deaths -- the most of any nation.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou

Jan 25, 4:25 pm
US hospital admissions drop 8% even as 13 states see surges

Nearly 20,000 Americans with COVID-19 are being admitted to hospitals each day -- an 8% drop over the last week, according to federal data.

But 13 states saw COVID-19-related hospital admission rates jump by at least 10%: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Emergency department visits for diagnosed COVID-19 cases declined nearly 24% over the last two weeks, according to federal data.

While the U.S. case rate is steadily falling -- down by 15% in the last week to an average of 664,000 new cases -- case rates still remain higher than any other point of the pandemic, according to federal data.

Wisconsin is leading the nation in new cases per capita, followed by Rhode Island, Utah and South Carolina.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 25, 12:18 pm
Elton John tests positive, Dallas concerts postponed

Elton John has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to postpone his concerts on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, according to a statement from the venue.

"Elton is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is experiencing only mild symptoms," the statement said. "Fans should hold on to their tickets as they will be honored at the rescheduled dates to be announced soon."

Jan 25, 12:02 pm
Florida governor vows to 'fight back' against FDA's 'reckless' decision

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to "fight back" against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "reckless" decision to limit the use of two monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 that were found to be ineffective against the now-dominant omicron variant.

"This is wrong what they are doing, and we have many people now who are very concerned because they were going to go in and get it today or tomorrow," DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday.

While the governor acknowledged that the treatments are less effective against omicron, he claimed that people in Florida have seen their COVID-19 symptoms clear up in the last month after receiving the treatments. DeSantis, however, did not offer data to support that claim.

"We're going to fight back against this," he told reporters.

When asked whether he plans to take legal action against the federal government, DeSantis said: "I don't know. We're going to see what we can do."

With omicron accounting for more than 99% of COVID-19 infections nationwide, the FDA on Monday revised its authorizations for two of the main monoclonal antibody treatments that have been widely used across the country -- one made by Eli Lilly and the other by Regeneron. The FDA said both treatments are no longer authorized for use in any U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction and should not be used for treatment against COVID-19. In the future, the treatments could still be used to help patients who become sick with other variants, according to the FDA.

Following the FDA's decision, Florida health officials announced that monoclonal antibody treatment sites would be shut down across the state. More than 2,000 appointments for the treatments were canceled statewide on Tuesday alone, according to the governor's office.

"Unfortunately, as a result of this abrupt decision made by the federal government, all monoclonal antibody state sites will be closed until further notice," the Florida Department of Health said in a statement late Monday. "Florida disagrees with the decision that blocks access to any available treatments in absence of clinical evidence. To date, such clinical evidence has not been provided by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."

-ABC News' Will McDuffie and Sasha Pezenik

Jan 25, 10:43 am
Kentucky governor's son tests positive as state's cases skyrocket

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's son has tested positive for COVID-19 as cases in the state skyrocket.

"My son is generally asymptomatic, we believe because he is vaccinated and boosted," Beshear said Monday.

The governor and the rest of his family tested negative on Monday, according to Beshear's office.

Kentucky reported 81,473 cases for the week ending on Sunday -- a record high.

Hospitalizations are also approaching a record high, his office said.

Jan 25, 9:18 am
WHO warns of rising cases of omicron sub-variant

The World Health Organization is sounding the alarm over rising cases of a new omicron sub-variant.

In an updated post to its website on Monday, the WHO said the new sub-variant, called BA.2, is a descendant of omicron, the now-dominant, highly contagious variant of the novel coronavirus. Unlike omicron, BA.2 is currently not considered a "variant of concern." But because it is spreading in many countries, the WHO is asking governments and scientists across the globe to monitor the situation and study the new sub-variant, as many have already been doing.

As of last Friday, BA.2 had already been detected in at least 40 countries, including the United States. It has already spread quickly in Denmark, where early reports indicate it doesn't appear to be deadlier than its parent variant. The sub-variant is now also spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom.

While BA.2 is a descendent of omicron, it has slightly different mutations. Omicron has several sub-variants, as does the previously dominant, highly transmissible delta variant.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman

Jan 25, 6:45 am
Pfizer, BioNTech announce clinical studies for omicron-based vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech said on Tuesday they have initiated clinical studies to evaluate an omicron-based vaccine for adults.

The trials will evaluate the "safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity" of the omicron-based vaccine for healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old, the companies said. About 1,400 participants will receive one of three combinations of the companies' current vaccine and the omicron-based vaccine.

"While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,” said Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., senior vice president and head of vaccine research & development at Pfizer, said in a statement.

The companies said 615 participants will receive a dose of the omicron booster after two doses of the current vaccine. Another 600 participants will receive a dose of the omicron booster after three doses of the current vaccine. The final 205 participants, who have not been vaccinated, will receive three doses of the omicron vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expected to have initial findings in the first half of 2022. ABC News has also learned Moderna is expected to start similar human trials of an omicron-specific vaccine within the coming days.

-ABC News' Eric Strauss

Jan 25, 6:34 am
London police probe Downing Street lockdown parties

London police said Tuesday they are investigating parties that allegedly took place at British Prime Minister Boris Johnon's official residence and executive office while England was under strict lockdown because of COVID-19.

In a statement before the London Assembly, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced the investigation into "a number of events" at 10 Downing Street.

"The fact that we are now investigating does not, of course, mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved," Dick said. "We will not be giving a running commentary on our current investigations."

Johnson is facing growing anger and calls for his resignation over claims he and his staff flouted COVID-19 restrictions imposed by his government. In the latest allegation, ITV News reported that the prime minister attended a surprise birthday party held for him at his office during the first lockdown in June 2020 and later hosted friends in his apartment upstairs that evening. At that time, people in England were barred from meeting more than one individual outside their household.

A spokesperson for Johnson's office called the claim "totally untrue," telling ITV News in a statement that, "in line with the rules at the time, the prime minister hosted a small number of family members outside that evening."

Earlier this month, Johnson acknowledged for the first time that he went to a garden party at 10 Downing Street during the first lockdown in May 2020. While he didn't explicitly admit that he had broken any rules, the prime minister apologized and said he had considered the garden party to be a work event to thank his staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

It was unclear which events London's Metropolitan Police Service is investigating.

Jan 25, 5:42 am
Crisis standards of care activated in southern Idaho

Crisis standards of care have been adopted in much of southern Idaho, as hospitals grapple with a surge in COVID-19 patients.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, citing severe staffing and blood supply shortages, activated crisis standards of care on Monday for the southwest, central and south central public health districts, which encompass 18 counties including the Boise, Nampa and Twin Falls metropolitan areas. Crisis standards of care provide legal and ethical guidelines for how health care providers should allocate scarce, life-saving resources, such as ventilators and intensive care unit beds, during an overwhelming public health emergency.

"The highly contagious Omicron variant has thrown us a curve ball," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement Monday. "Once again, the situation in our hospitals and health systems is dire -- we don't have enough resources to adequately treat patients."

It was the second time amid the coronavirus pandemic that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has activated crisis standards of care. Health care rationing was authorized in northern Idaho last September before being extended to the entire state 10 days later. The guidelines were fully deactivated by the end of December.

The latest activation came in response to a request from Saint Alphonsus Health System, which has hospitals in southwestern Idaho as well as eastern Oregon. Jeppesen convened Idaho's crisis standards of care activation advisory committee last Friday, and the committee recommended that the guidelines be activated statewide. Jeppesen decided to only make the designation for southern Idaho, but said other parts of the state will likely be added if current COVID-19 trends continue.

Jeppesen urged residents to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and to wear high-quality face masks in public places.

"Omicron is so much more contagious than previous variants, and even though a lower percentage of cases are ending up in the hospital, the record number of cases is still putting strain on our healthcare system," he said.

Jan 24, 4:05 pm
Pediatric cases sky-high but hospitalizations show decline

More than 1.1 million children tested positive for COVID-19 last week -- nearly five times the rate of the peak of last winters’ surge, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

A total of 10.6 million children have tested positive since the onset of the pandemic. A fifth of those children -- over 2 million kids -- tested positive in just the last two weeks, according to the two organizations.

Pediatric cases in the Northeast are seeing a dramatic drop but new cases in the West, South and the Midwest are still surging.

But there is positive news: COVID-19-related hospitalizations among children fell this week for the first time in one month.

More than 28.4 million eligible children remain unvaccinated.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Idaho activates crisis standards of care in 3 districts

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(BOISE, Idaho) -- Faced with a severe medical staffing shortage due to a surge in the COVID-19 cases and dwindling blood supply, Idaho health officials have activated crisis standards of care guidelines for the second time in less than a year.

The Idaho Department of Public Health and Welfare enacted the crisis protocols on Monday for three public health districts in the southern part of the state reeling from a rise in coronavirus cases because of the rampant spread of the omicron variant, officials said.

"The highly contagious omicron variant has thrown us a curveball," Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Public Health and Welfare, said in a statement. "Once again, the situation in our hospitals and health systems is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat patients."

COVID cases skyrocketed in September 2021, which led the state to enact the crisis protocol.

More than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases, the majority caused by the omicron variant, were reported in the state on Monday, according to the state's coronavirus online dashboard data. The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has doubled in the last month from 8.6% in December to 17.1% in January, according to the data.

“Please get vaccinated and boosted if you can and wear a high-quality protective mask in public places," Jeppesen said in a statement. "Omicron is so much more contagious than previous variants, and even though a lower percentage of cases are ending up in the hospital, the record number of cases is still putting strain on our health care system"

A high number of both clinical and non-clinical medical staff members have been unable to work because of being infected by the virus, health officials said.

The state department reported that on Jan. 21, one of the largest healthcare providers, Saint Alphonsus, requested crisis standards of care due to the extreme staff shortage and the low blood supply available. Despite canceling non-urgent surgical appointments, conserving blood supply, and hiring more nurses, the COVID-19 surge has stretched health care facilities like Saint Alphonsus extremely thin.

Saint Alphonsus' request also highlighted the need to implement blood conservation strategies due to the nationwide blood shortages.

To continue providing the usual standard of care to those who most need it, the crisis standard care protocols will call for things like postponement of elective surgery, etc.

The goal of activating the protocol is to provide and care for as many patients as needed, Jeppesen said in his statement.

The crisis standards of care has been activated in the southwest, central and south central health districts in Idaho. The state will monitor COVID numbers and staffing shortages in other regions and hospitals to see if the protocols need to be further expanded.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


2nd NYPD officer dies from Harlem shooting

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(NEW YORK) -- A second NYPD officer has died after being shot at a domestic violence call in Harlem this weekend.

Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, who died Tuesday, is "3 times a hero," Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell tweeted. "For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation."

Mora was shot while responding to a 911 call Friday night from a woman who was in a dispute with her son. She said her son was in a back bedroom, and when the officers approached the bedroom, the door swung open and the suspect fired, police said.

Mora's partner, officer Jason Rivera, 22, was struck first at the scene and died from his injuries.

A third officer, 27-year-old Sumit Sulan, opened fire on the suspect, LaShawn McNeil.

McNeil, 47, later died from his injuries.

Mora and Rivera are among five NYPD officers who have been shot this month, the commissioner said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, on Monday unveiled a new strategy to combat violent crime.

"New Yorkers feel as if a sea of violence is engulfing our city," Adams said. "But as your mayor, I promise you I will not let this happen. We will not surrender our city to the violent feud. We won't go back to the bad old days."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Coast Guard searching for 39 people after boat capsizes near Florida

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(FORT PIERCE INLET, Fla.) -- The Coast Guard was combing the waters off eastern Florida Tuesday afternoon, looking for 39 people on a boat that capsized.

The vessel may have been part of a "human smuggling venture," the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said it had received a report from a good Samaritan who rescued a man clinging to the vessel, roughly 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet, around 8 a.m.

The survivor said he left Bimini, Bahamas, on Saturday night, and that their boat encountered turbulent weather. No one was wearing a life jacket, according to the survivor.

Coast Guard boats and aircraft were searching throughout the morning, and as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, no other survivors had been discovered.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black correction officer mistaken for shoplifter sues Walmart for 'racial profiling'

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(FAYETTEVILLE, Ga.) -- A Black law enforcement officer is alleging that he was racially profiled in a Georgia Walmart store after he was handcuffed and wrongfully accused of shoplifting -- and now he's suing.

David Conners, a Clayton County corrections officer, said he was shopping for home decor when a Fayetteville Police Department officer stopped him in his tracks, saying employees believed he was a man with the last name "Wright" who had repeatedly stolen electronics from the store.

"He's just in the store, minding his own business, when he's approached by the police, and everything went downhill from there," Terance Madden, an attorney for Conners, told ABC News in an interview.

According to the lawsuit, officers handcuffed him while investigating claims by Walmart employees that he was the serial shoplifter. Madden said a warrant already had been issued for that individual.

Conners gave the arresting officers two pieces of identification -- one of which showed he was a local correction officer -- but he was still taken to another room and held while officers investigated, the lawsuit said.

Officers showed Conners footage of the shoplifter that employees thought was him. Conners pointed out that he has visible tattoos, while the alleged shoplifter didn't. But it wasn't until officers called someone familiar with the case who confirmed Conners wasn't the shoplifter that he was released, according to the lawsuit.

In a statement to ABC News, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said: "We don't tolerate discrimination of any kind and take allegations like this seriously. We are not going to comment further on this pending litigation."

Conners said he's since sought professional counseling to cope with the mental and psychological trauma that he says was brought about as a result of this incident. He said neither Walmart nor the employee who called the police has apologized for the incident.

Conners also said the incident has given him a new perspective on the prevalence and impact of racial profiling, as a law enforcement officer himself.

"You see it all the time, but you never believe it's going to happen to you until it happens to you," Madden added. "It becomes personal, and a violation is something you can't help to think about over and over and over again when it happens to you."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Judge allows Michael Avenatti to represent himself in case involving Stormy Daniels

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(NEW YORK) -- On the second day of his trial in Manhattan federal court, Michael Avenatti has asked to represent himself.

Avenatti had been appointed taxpayer-funded counsel from the Federal Defenders of New York as he fights charges he stole $300,000 from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.

Avenatti unexpectedly asked Judge Jesse Furman Tuesday to continue pro se after what Avenatti described as a “breakdown” with his attorneys.

The move would put witnesses who used to work for him in the unusual position of being cross-examined by their former boss.

The judge granted Avenatti’s wish, despite expressing concern Avenatti is effectively trying to testify without formally taking the witness stand as his lawyers had signaled there was a “strong possibility” he would.

This also means Avenatti will cross-examine Daniels when she testifies, as she is expected to do later this week.

Daniels was supposed to be paid $800,000 in four installments for writing her autobiography, including details of her long-denied affair with former President Donald Trump. The prosecution said Avenatti stole two of those payments because he was having personal financial problems and his law firm was having trouble making payroll and paying for office space.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty and his attorney said there was no theft.

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El Chapo conviction upheld

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(NEW YORK) -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo.

Joaquin Guzman sought to overturn his conviction in Brooklyn federal court on ten grounds. The appellate court concluded "none of these claims has merit."

Among Guzman's arguments, the strict conditions of his confinement before trial inhibited his rights to prepare a defense and benefit from the assistance of counsel.

"The District Court did not err in concluding that Guzman was able to assist in his own defense and receive a fair trial, despite the conditions of his pretrial confinement," the decision from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals said. "The conditions of Guzman's pretrial confinement, harsh as they were, do not provide a basis for disturbing his conviction."

"While respecting the Court’s ruling, we’re disappointed that substantial allegations of grave jury misconduct continue to be swept under the rug and left wholly unexamined in a case of historic proportion — all, it appears, because of the defendant’s matchless notoriety," said Guzman's attorney, Marc Fernich, in a statement Tuesday.

Guzman was convicted in 2019 of conducting a continuing criminal enterprise, including large-scale narcotics violations and a murder conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracies, unlawful use of a firearm, and a money laundering conspiracy. He is currently serving a life sentence.

El Chapo was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Under his leadership, the Sinaloa Cartel imported more than a million kilograms of cocaine and hundreds of kilograms of heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into the United States. Trial evidence proved the cartel used murder, kidnapping, torture, bribery of officials, and other illegal methods to control territory throughout Mexico and to subdue opposition.

In November, Guzman's wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana for import into the U.S; money-laundering and helping run the Mexican drug cartel in which her husband was the boss.

ABC News' Luke Barr contributed to this report.

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New video shows suspect in shooting of baby girl in the Bronx, reward climbs to $10,000

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(NEW YORK) -- Police in New York City have released new video of the suspect wanted for shooting an 11-month-old girl in the face in the Bronx.

A reward has now climbed to $10,000, police said.

The shooting took place at about 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 19 while the baby was in a parked car with her mother outside a grocery store, waiting for the father who was inside the store, police said.

A man chasing another man fired two shots, hitting the baby in the face, police said.

The NYPD said the suspect fled in a gray Nissan.

The baby girl, Catherine, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition and turned 1 days later. Her current condition isn't clear.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark addressed the gunman in an interview with ABC New York station WABC last week, saying, "you're not going to get away with it. ... We're going to find you eventually, because we're not going to stop looking."

Anyone with information is asked to call 800-577-TIPS.

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Three firefighters killed in row home collapse are identified

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(BALTIMORE) -- The city of Baltimore is in mourning after three firefighters were killed when they responded to a fire and became trapped inside.

Lt. Paul Butrim, firefighter Kelsey Sadler and firefighter Kenny Lacayo died while battling a blaze at a vacant row-home Monday morning.

The house partially collapsed, trapping them inside, along with a fourth firefighter, John McMaster, who survived and is in critical but stable condition.

Lt. Butrim was a 16-year veteran of the department. Sadler spent 15 years with the department and Lacayo was with the department for seven years.

"This is a gut-wrenching tragedy for our city, the Baltimore City Fire Department, and most importantly the families of our firefighters," Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement. "My heart is with the firefighters, their families, and the entire Baltimore City Fire Department who put the lives and safety of others before their own wellbeing each and every day. I ask that all of Baltimore keep them in our prayers during this extremely difficult time."

Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford said, "From this moment, we will honor those we lost today, for their bravery, their courage, their love for helping others and the respect they had for the Baltimore City Fire Department."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered flags lowered to half-staff.

Law enforcement and sports teams in Baltimore are also offering their condolences.

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Black man sues police after being mistaken for white ex-felon

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(NEW YORK) -- Shane Lee Brown, a 25-year-old Black man, is suing two Nevada police departments after he says he was misidentified as a now-51-year-old white man who had an active felony warrant out against him.

Brown was arrested on January 8, 2020, during a traffic stop with Henderson, Nevada, police. Brown didn't have his driver's license with him but gave his name and Social Security information to police, according to the lawsuit.

When officers performed a records check on the name "Shane Brown," a felony bench warrant for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person appeared, according to the lawsuit.

Brown was then arrested and jailed and two days later, he was put in custody of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

"Despite being informed of this mistaken identity, none of the unknown LVMPD police or LVMPD corrections officers bothered to review its own records to determine whether Shane Lee Brown was the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit said.

Henderson police told ABC News that the arrest was lawful and that Shane Lee Brown was arrested for driving with a suspended license and for failing to pay a warrant issued by Henderson Municipal Court.

"The plaintiff in this lawsuit has not presented all the facts and circumstances behind his lawful and proper arrest by Henderson Police, which will be further addressed in the City Attorney's response to the court," the police department says, commenting on the lawsuit.

Brown's attorney, E. Brent Bryson, told ABC News Brown told officers that he knew about the violations and had a court date set to take care of them.

"They were going to let him go, except for the fact that when they ran [his name], it pulled up the wrongful bench warrant for the white Shane Brown," Bryson said. "From one standpoint, yes, they could have arrested him and be rightfully arrested for traffic. He was wrongfully detained and arrested, however, for the warrant out of [the Las Vegas Metropolitan area] for the felony possession of a firearm."

On Jan. 14, a Clark County District Court judge confirmed that he was not Shane Neal Brown at a hearing and was released from custody, the lawsuit states.

He is suing the Las Vegas and Henderson police departments for $50,000 for civil rights violations, false imprisonment, negligence and other wrongful conduct.

According to the lawsuit, Brown told police several times that he was not Shane Neal Brown. Shane Neal Brown is an ex-felon who was wanted for missing a court hearing while on parole following a possession of a firearm charge. He pleaded guilty to the charges. The lawsuit indicates that there were likely prior booking photos of Shane Neal Brown available.

"Had any of the LVMPD police or corrections officers performed any due diligence, such as comparing Shane Lee Brown's booking photo against the existing mug shot belonging to the world, white 'Shane Brown' named in the warrant, they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit said.

Bryson has accused law enforcement officials of ignoring the conflicting details including mismatched photos, fingerprints, dates of birth, physical descriptions or criminal identification numbers in the process of Brown's arrest and incarceration.

Bryson did not respond to ABC News requests for comment. LVMPD declined ABC News' request for comment.

 

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COVID-19 live updates: Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying her libel trial against New York Times

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.6 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 868,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 63.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-Pediatric cases sky-high but hospitalizations show decline
-31 states report plateauing or decreasing new case rates
-Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying her libel trial against New York Times

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Jan 24, 4:05 pm
Pediatric cases sky-high but hospitalizations show decline

More than 1.1 million children tested positive for COVID-19 last week -- nearly five times the rate of the peak of last winters’ surge, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

A total of 10.6 million children have tested positive since the onset of the pandemic. A fifth of those children -- over 2 million kids -- tested positive in just the last two weeks, according to the two organizations.

Pediatric cases in the Northeast are seeing a dramatic drop but new cases in the West, South and the Midwest are still surging.

But there is positive news: COVID-19-related hospitalizations among children fell this week for the first time in one month.

More than 28.4 million eligible children remain unvaccinated.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 24, 1:18 pm
New Jersey cases drop by two-thirds in 2 weeks

The omicron surge appears to be letting up in New Jersey, where cases are now down by roughly two-thirds from two weeks ago, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.


While hospitalization numbers have been falling this week, Murphy stressed that they're still "higher than anything we had seen with the two prior surges."

"We also remain very concerned about the ICU and ventilator numbers, which are coming down much more slowly," the governor said.

Jan 24, 12:26 pm
31 states report plateauing or decreasing new case rates

Following weeks of increasing infections, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are rising. The nation is now reporting nearly 2,000 new COVID-19-related deaths per day -- up by 30% in the last two weeks, according to federal data.

But there's continued evidence that the nation's most recent surge may be receding in many regions. Thirty-one states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are now reporting decreasing or plateauing new case averages, according to federal data.

The only states with an increase in new cases are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Nationwide, the U.S. is reporting an average of 716,000 new cases per day, down by about 10% in the last week.

However, case levels in the U.S. remain incredibly high. In the last seven days, the U.S. reported more than 5 million new cases. Only 1% of U.S. counties aren't reporting high transmission, according to federal data.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Jan 24, 11:51 am
Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying her libel trial against New York Times

Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has tested positive for COVID-19, a Manhattan federal court judge announced Monday, as her libel trial against the New York Times was about to begin.

“Since she has apparently tested positive three times I’m going to assume she’s positive,” Judge Jed Rakoff said.

The libel case between Palin and the newspaper has now been delayed until Feb. 2.

Palin sued the New York Times after an editorial incorrectly linked her political rhetoric to the mass shooting that gravely injured Rep. Gabby Giffords. Palin is expected to testify.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky

 

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Federal trial for disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti begins

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(NEW YORK) -- A federal prosecutor on Monday called Michael Avenatti “a lawyer who stole from his client” and promised jurors “you’re going to follow the money” at the opening of Avenatti’s trial in Manhattan federal court.

Avenatti, seated at the defense table in a mask and dark suit, is charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for forging the signature of his most well-known client, the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and steering $300,000 she was owed by a book publisher into an account he controlled.

“The defendant betrayed the victim, stole her money and lied to cover it up,” the prosecutor, Andrew Rohrbach, said during his opening statement.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty and his attorney said there was no theft.

“Mr. Avenatti didn’t steal Storm Daniels money,” defense attorney Andrew Dalak said, instead casting the matter as a “disagreement” or fee dispute.

“This disagreement has no business in federal criminal court,” Dalak said in his opening statement.

Daniels was supposed to be paid $800,000 in four installments for writing her autobiography, including details of her long-denied affair with former President Donald Trump. The prosecution said Avenatti stole two of those payments because he was having personal financial problems and his law firm was having trouble making payroll and paying for office space.

“There was no agreement for the defendant to get any piece of Ms. Daniels’ book money,” Rohrbach said. “She didn’t know her lawyer had stolen her money.”

The defense has suggested it might question the credibility of Daniels, who Dalak called an “obscure adult entertainer” before she received a hush payment from Trump and sued to get released from a nondisclosure agreement. The defense will also be allowed to question Daniels about her beliefs in the paranormal related to her “Spooky Babes” television show in which she explores paranormal activity.

Anticipating the line of questioning, Rohrbach said actresses in adult films and paranormal investigators “can be victims of fraud and identity theft too.”

The government’s first witness is Lucas Janklow, Daniels’ literary agent, who testified he first knew Avenatti by reputation as “a folk hero” who was “very aggressive and very effective at fighting for the 70 million people who didn’t vote” for Trump.

 

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$60,000 reward officer for suspect ID'd in fatal ambush shooting of Texas deputy

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(NEW YORK) -- A $60,000 reward is being offered in the search for the suspect identified in the fatal ambush shooting of a Texas constable deputy during a traffic stop on Sunday.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner named 51-year-old Oscar Rosales as the suspect who allegedly gunned down Cpl. Charles Galloway of the Harris County Precinct 5 office.

"We have video evidence of him shooting our constable," said Finner, who released a photo of Rosales and pleaded for the public to share any information they had about the suspect.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Rosales has been charged with capital murder in Galloways' death. Ogg described Rosales as "a bold and incredibly dangerous fugitive."

"Mr. Rosales, you can run but you cannot hide," said Ogg, adding that the search for the suspect is now nationwide.

Galloway, 47, was shot multiple times while still seated in his patrol car and reportedly had no time to defend himself when the motorist he stopped got out of his car and opened fire without warning, authorities said.

"We will not stop until this individual is apprehended," Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap said during Monday's news conference. "This is a murderer. This is a ruthless, savage execution and somebody like this needs to be removed from the streets quickly."

The shooting started at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday when Galloway, a training officer, pulled over a newer-model white Toyota Avalon in a residential neighborhood of southwest Houston, according to Finner.

Finner said the suspect immediately got out of the car and began firing at Galloway multiple times with an assault-type rifle, before driving off. He said Galloway did not have an opportunity to defend himself.

Ogg said Rosales' wife, Reina Marquez, and her brother, Henri Mauricio Pereira-Marquez, have both been arrested on charges of tampering with evidence.

Finner said Reina Marquez and her brother are alleged to have tampered with the Toyota Avalon, which has since been recovered by police.

He said the reward being offered for information leading to the capture and prosecution of Rosales came from donations from Crime Stoppers of Houston, the Fallen Heroes Fund 100 Club and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who put up $50,000.

The deadly episode came during a string of law enforcement officer deaths in-the-line duty nationwide. On Friday night, a 22-year-old rookie New York City police officer was fatally shot and his partner was critically wounded when they responded to a domestic incident in Harlem.

On Dec. 29, Bradley, Illinois, Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, 49, was fatally shot and her partner was wounded when they responded to a barking dog complaint at a hotel. Two people arrested in the case, including one who allegedly shot Rittmanic with her own gun, were arrested and are facing the death penalty if convicted.

Galloway's death comes about three months after Harris County Constable Precinct 4 deputy Kareem Atkins, 30, was shot to death in an ambush outside a Houston sports bar that left Atkins' partner wounded. A 19-year-old suspect was arrested in December and charged with capital murder.

"These are not assaults, these are not attacks, these are brutal, brutal murders. We have to put an end to this," Heap said. "We cannot have people like this on our streets. I don't want to raise my family, my grandchildren in a county where this type of crime is running rampant."

Heap nor Finner would comment on why Galloway, who was assigned to the toll road enforcement division, initiated the traffic stop.

Finner said his departments investigative and homicide units are leading the investigation.

Heap said Galloway is survived by a daughter and a sister. He said Galloway was a 12 1/2-year veteran of Precinct 5 and had voluntarily switched to a night shift position to become a training officer.

"There are a lot of very broken up officers who he (Galloway) meant a lot in their lives because he was the one sitting in the front seat with them," Heap said. "He was the one who was teaching them what to do and how to get home safely to their families."

 

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Prosecutor says cops made 'conscious choice' not to protect George Floyd

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(NEW YORK) -- Opening statements got underway Monday in the federal trial of three former Minnesota police officers charged in the death of George Floyd with a prosecutor telling the jury the defendants "made the conscious choice over and over again" not to protect the 46-year-old Black man.

Fired Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, 28, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35, are fighting charges stemming from their alleged roles in the deadly confrontation with Floyd who their one-time senior officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murdering.

The trial, expected to last two to four weeks, is being held at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in St. Paul.

The trial got underway just after 10 a.m. with U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson swearing in the jury before calling on a federal prosecutor to give the first opening statement.

"In your custody, in your care," Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Trepel told the jury, reading from the Minneapolis Police Department's policy on how officers should treat people once taken to custody. The prosecutor added that it's "not just a moral responsibility, it's what the law requires under the U.S. Constitution."

Trepel said the defendants were all trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, yet took no action to help save Floyd's life as he claimed at least 25 times that he could not breathe, was rendered unconscious and lost a pulse.

"Here on May 25, 2020, for second after second, minute after minute, these three CPR-trained defendants stood or knelt next to Officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them," Trepel said.

She added that the officers each made the "conscious choice over and over again" not to act to protect a man they had in handcuffs and pinned to the pavement.

Trepel noted that in one of the videos of the episode, Tao, who was trying to keep a crowd at bay, was standing next to Chauvin but failed to stop the excessive force, rather telling witnesses, "This is why you don't do drugs, kids."

The prosecutor said Keung was kneeling on Floyd's back the whole time and did nothing to stop Chauvin's excessive use of force, even two minutes after he could not find Floyd's pulse and after an ambulance crew arrived and could not detect a heartbeat.

Trepel said that despite being rookie cops, Lane and Keung had been extensively trained for 1 1/2 years, both being taught at the police academy many times to turn a subject onto their side when they are having trouble breathing.

"We will ask you to hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing and watch a man die," Trepel told the jury

Attorneys for each of the defendants are expected to follow with their own opening statements to the jury.

Following Trepel's statement, Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, made a motion for a mistrial, arguing that some of what Trepel's told the jury was more argumentative than a preview of the evidence the prosecutors intend to present over the course of the trial.

Magnuson denied the motion.

Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, acknowledged in his opening statement that Floyd's death was a tragedy, but added, "a tragedy is not a crime."

Paule told the jury that he expects the prosecution to lean heavily on the video evidence in the case, including footage taken by witness Darnella Fraizer, the then 17-year-old, who began recording when the officers already had Floyd handcuffed and prone on the ground. Paule told the jury that the video doesn't tell the whole story and noted that Floyd was struggling and resisting the officers prior to Fraizer and other witnesses filming the encounter.

Paule told the jury that after hearing the evidence, the only verdict justified will be not guilty on all counts.

Keung's attorney, Tom Plunkett, said Keung and Lane had only completed five shifts on the job by the time they became involved in Floyd's fatal arrest and deferred to Chauvin, their field training officer with 19 years of law enforcement experience under his belt.

Plunkett said a field training officer "has great control over a young officer's future in the Minneapolis Police Department."

He said Chauvin was clearly in charge of the incident even though Lane should have been because he was the senior officer in the first squad car to arrive at the scene.

Lane's attorney, Earl Gray, called the government's case against his client a "perversion of justice."

Gray said Floyd measured 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds and put the officer in a "scary" scenario when he struggled with them.

"He was all muscle," Gray said of Floyd.

He said Lane "was totally concerned and did everything he could possibly do to help George Floyd." He said Lane asked Chauvin and Kueng if they should turn the man on his side to help him breathe, but his suggestions were rejected.

"Not deliberatively indifferent about his health at all," Gray said of Lane's reactions during the episode.

Gray told the jury that Lane will testify during the trial.

Attorneys for the Floyd family released a statement earlier saying the trial is "another milestone in the long, slow journey to justice for George Floyd and his family."

"This trial will be another painful experience for the Floyd family, who must once more relive his grueling death in excruciating detail," the statement from the family's attorneys said.

The 18-member jury, including six alternates, was impaneled in just one day, chosen on Thursday from a pool of 256 potential jurors. The jury is comprised of 11 women and seven men, none of whom are Black.

All three defendants are charged with using the "color of the law," or their positions as police officers, to deprive Floyd of his civil rights by allegedly showing deliberate indifference to his medical needs as Chauvin dug his knee in the back of a handcuffed man's neck for more than 9 minutes, ultimately killing him.

Kueng and Thao both face an additional charge alleging they knew Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd's neck but did nothing to intervene to stop him. Lane, who was heard on police body camera footage asking if they should roll Floyd on his side to help ease his breathing, does not face that charge.

Kueng, Lane and Thao have pleaded not guilty.

Opening statements in the trial commenced a little over a month after Chauvin, 45, a former Minneapolis police officer, pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges stemming from Floyd's death and the abuse of a 14-year-old boy he bashed in the head with a flashlight in 2017. He admitted in the signed plea agreement with federal prosecutors that he knelt on the back of Floyd's neck even as Floyd complained he could not breathe, fell unconscious and lost a pulse.

The guilty plea came after Chauvin was convicted in Minnesota state court in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison in the state case and is facing an even stiffer sentence in the federal case.

Kueng and Lane were rookies being trained by Chauvin at the time of Floyd's fatal arrest.

The May 25, 2020, police encounter with Floyd, who was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store, was recorded on video from start to finish and included multiple angles taken by bystanders with cellphones, police body cameras and surveillance cameras.

The footage showed Chauvin grinding his knee into the back of Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while Kueng helped keep Floyd down even after he stopped resisting by placing his knee on the man's back and holding and lifting one of his handcuffed hands. Lane, according to the videos, held down Floyd's feet.

Thao, according to footage, stood a few feet away, ordering a crowd to stand back despite several witnesses, including an off-duty firefighter, expressing concern for Floyd's well-being.

Following the federal trial, Lane, Keung and Thao are facing a state trial on charges arising from Floyd's death of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

The three defendants have pleaded not guilty to the state charges.

ABC News' Janel Klein contributed to this report.

 

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Police investigate homicide of six people found dead at Milwaukee home

Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images

(MILWAUKEE) -- Six people were found dead at a home in Wisconsin's largest city in what police are investigating as a homicide.

Officers were conducting a welfare check at a residence in Milwaukee's Park West neighborhood on Sunday afternoon when they discovered the bodies of four men and one woman, according to the Milwaukee Police Department. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office announced early Monday that the body of a fifth man was also found at the location.

During a press conference Sunday night, Milwaukee Police Assistant Chief Paul Formolo said all of the deaths are being considered homicides, though he did not provide a cause of death. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed via Twitter overnight that the sixth body was also a homicide victim. Autopsies are expected to be conducted Monday, according to Formolo.

Investigators are still working to determine the identities of the deceased and for how long they were dead before officers arrived, Formolo said.

When asked whether a weapon was found in the home, Formolo told reporters that officers are actively searching the residence but did not give further information. He did not confirm if a suspect was among the deceased and could not comment on the relationships between the victims. However, he said there was no indication to suggest that the incident poses a threat to the community.

An investigation into the deaths is ongoing. A motive was unknown, according to Formolo.

Arnitta Holliman, director of the Milwaukee Office of Violence and Prevention, urged members of the community to contact the Milwaukee Police Department or Milwaukee Crime Stoppers if they think they have any relevant information.

"The community is tired, we are tired of seeing people's lives snuffed out too soon in preventable situations," Holliman told reporters. "Each and every one of us has to step up, speak up, stand up, do something."

"Milwaukee is great place and can continue to be one," she added, "but we cannot continue to see the kind of violence, level of violence, that we've been seeing."

Acting Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson released a statement on Sunday evening describing the deaths as "horrific."

"It is important not to feel numbed by the ongoing violence in our community," Johnson said. "A horrible crime has again occurred, and it is not a movie or a fictional account. These victims died in our city, in one of our neighborhoods."

ABC News' Jakeira Gilbert contributed to this report.

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