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Omicron in at least 5 US states; Congress averts shutdown; plus more top news
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Omicron in at least 5 US states; Congress averts shutdown; plus more top news

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How worried should we be about omicron? Will we need to tweak current vaccines? Here's what to know.

Today is Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Let's get caught up.

Here are today's top stories, celebrity birthdays and a look back at this date in history:

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Virus Outbreak Minnesota

Gregg Voreis, 9, of Edina, Minn., wears a Santa hat while in line for a COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Omicron variant in at least 5 US states

NEW YORK (AP) — The omicron variant of COVID-19, which had been undetected in the U.S. before the middle of this week, had been discovered in at least five states by the end of Thursday, showing yet again how mutations of the virus can circumnavigate the globe with speed and ease.

World Health Organization officials said Friday that measures used to counter the delta variant should remain the foundation for fighting the coronavirus pandemic, even in the face of the new omicron version of the virus, while acknowledging that the travel restrictions imposed by some countries may buy time.

While about three dozen countries worldwide have reported omicron infections, including India on Thursday, the numbers so far are small outside of South Africa, which is facing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and where the new variant may be becoming dominant.

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APTOPIX Congress Government Funding

Night falls at the the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.

OK of stopgap funding bill avoids government shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has passed a stopgap spending bill that avoids a short-term shutdown and funds the federal government through Feb. 18 after leaders defused a partisan standoff over federal vaccine mandates. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

Earlier Thursday, congressional leaders announced they had finally reached an agreement to keep the government running for 11 more weeks, generally at current spending levels, while adding $7 billion to aid Afghanistan evacuees.

Once the House voted to approve the measure, senators soon announced an agreement that would allow them to vote on it quickly.

The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 69-28. The Democratic-led House passed the measure by a 221-212 vote.

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Click on the links below for full versions of today's top stories. Keep scrolling for a look back at this day in history and today's celebrity birthdays:

Top headlines for Friday, Dec. 3, 2021

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IMAGE OF THE DAY

APTOPIX South Korea Christmas

A girl watches a diver clad in a Santa Claus outfit during an event to promote the upcoming Christmas holiday at the Coex Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Christmas is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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TODAY IN HISTORY

In 1992, the Greek tanker Aegean Sea spilled more than 21 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground off northwestern Spain, and more ev…

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