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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are tired of COVID and don't want another round of cancellations, but they're happening anyway.

Why it matters: Omicron is spreading so fast that it's forcing officials' hands, and scrambling Americans' plans just two weeks after an Axios-Ipsos poll found that most weren't interested in upending their lives to avoid the new variant.

  • "This virus is extraordinary. It has a doubling time of anywhere from two to three days," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.
  • President Biden plans to deliver remarks Tuesday on the status of the fight against COVID, including new steps the administration will be taking to help communities in need of assistance, a White House official told Axios.
  • "The President will also issue a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated," the official said.

State of play: Professional sports teams and entertainment venues, as well as corporations and schools, have all announced cancellations and closures in recent days.

Between the lines: As Americans prepare for their holiday plans, they are running into difficulty finding rapid COVID tests amid surging case rates, causing some to rethink their gatherings, the Washington Post writes.

  • The shortage was pretty obvious to anyone who tried to find rapid tests on pharmacy shelves this weekend — or even if they tried to order them. The CVS site declared that BinaxNOW, a common antigen self-test, is "out of stock online."
  • "Testing shouldn't be just the gold ring at the end of an obstacle course," said Adriane Casalotti of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, per the Post.

The big picture: The closures and cancellations are also widespread overseas.

What to watch: Whether Americans start canceling their holiday travel plans, and whether Biden offers any steps that can help get ahead of the coming wave of cases — including addressing the shortage of rapid tests.

  • And, sadly, whether the rise in Omicron cases will start leading to more hospitalizations and deaths — and whether our health care system can stand the strain.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require vaccine or test for indoor dining

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures here remain.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

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