From the Omicron surge in Covid-19 cases affecting Christmas plans to Joe Manchin halting Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, this week’s news changed rapidly.

Missed some of our updates? Catch up now with our weekly Breakdown.

OMICRON SURGE SPREAD GLOBALLY

Going into the holidays this Christmas, a surge in Covid-19 cases brought new record-high totals and disrupted travel plans. Many found themselves exposed to someone who tested positive. Governments reintroduced preventative mandates just when it felt like things were finally turning around. Europe, a continent that was hit especially hard by the increase in cases, saw many countries go back into lockdown.

In the United States, the Northeast was similarly struck with the Omicron variant, where many people waited in line for hours to get tested. The country has rolled out the booster shot. But even those vaccinated with their third dose were testing positive and experiencing mild symptoms. Hospital beds and ICU rooms filled up once again, though getting fully vaccinated has still greatly increased the chance to fight the virus.

Rollout of a fourth shot began in Israel this month, something the United States will likely consider next, while the FDA authorized two antiviral pills to fight Covid-19 from Pfizer and Merck.

Though many Americans know the drill after nearly two years of Covid-19, many were frustrated with the government’s response and inability to stop further spread, especially during the holidays.

People waiting in long lines for hours just to receive the Covid-19 booster shot during a wave of Omicron surges
People waiting in long lines for hours just to receive the Covid-19 booster shot during a wave of Omicron surges. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

JOE MANCHIN HALTED BUILD BACK BETTER

One man held all the power in Washington D.C. this week, and it was not President Joe Biden. Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia, has long been a thorn in the Democrats’ side, as the party member repeatedly refuses to pass progressive legislation. Like most bills in the Senate, full opposition from the Republican side means that all the Democrats and a tying vote from VP Kamala Harris are needed to pass legislation, but Sen. Joe Manchin will not budge.

Build Back Better, an infrastructure bill and campaign promise toted by President Joe Biden will likely not go into effect if there is opposition from Manchin. The senator stated that the project cost too much and included measures to phase out coal plants, which he believed should be dealt with in the private sector.

JURY FOUND KIM POTTER GUILTY

The jury in the trial of former officer Kim Potter, charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter after she mistook her firearm for her taser and fatally shot an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, reached a verdict of guilty after four days of deliberations.

Many analysts expected a hung jury after the group asked Judge Regina Chu about the procedure if they could not reach a decision. Kim Potter said that she never meant to hurt anyone and had never fired her gun before. The prosecution grilled her on the argument that she made a mistake, saying that mistakes do not outweigh potential crimes.

Police protestors in the death of Daunte Wright, killed by former officer Kim Potter when she mistook her firearm for her taser
Police protestors in the death of Daunte Wright, killed by former officer Kim Potter when she mistook her firearm for her taser. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

NHL PAUSED THE SEASON DUE TO COVID-19

The spread of the Omicron variant throughout sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and the NHL has caused massive hiccups and delays as many teams were without the necessary number of healthy players to begin a game. While the NFL has made do with second and third-string alternates, the NBA has had to sign “hardship” players on 10-day contracts and postpone games involving especially hard-hit teams.

The NHL became the first league to halt play entirely this week, pausing the season over the holiday from Wednesday to Saturday and postponing all of the previously scheduled games. Though the league has recommended requiring that all players receive the booster shot, the NHL has not ruled on the third vaccination. Leagues such as the NBA and the NFL allowed unvaccinated players to compete this season if they followed strict health and safety protocols.

PENG SHUAI DENIED PREVIOUS ALLEGATIONS

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai mysteriously denied sexual assault allegations she made against a former politician after weeks of concern for her safety and well-being. Releasing a video that walked back her social media post deleted by the Chinese government, Peng Shuai stated that she never wrote about the alleged assault and that she was OK.

The bizarre video came after U.S. tennis organizations pulled out of Chinese events and declared an investigation into Peng Shuai’s claims. Despite the tennis star now stating that she is “free” and at home in Beijing, many are still skeptical and concerned for her safety, believing that the Chinese government has threatened her and forced her to take back the allegations.

Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player now walking back claims of sexual assault
Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player now walking back claims of sexual assault. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

OSCAR SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED FOR SELECT CATEGORIES

The Academy revealed the shortlists for select categories in music and international features on Tuesday, including nominations for fan-favorites such as Italy’s Hand of God, Japan’s Drive My Car and Denmark’s Flee. Titane, France’s selection by director Julia Ducournau, was surprisingly left off the list.

Also announced were the musicians competing for Best Original Song, including Billie Eilish for James Bond’s “No Time to Die,” Lin-Manuel Miranda for Encanto‘s “Dos Oruguitas,” and power-couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé for King Richard’s “Be Alive” and Harder They Fall‘s “Guns Go Bang.” Could this be Beyoncé’s first Oscar, or could it go to her husband instead? We’ll have to wait to find out when The Academy Awards premiere on Apr. 25, 2022.

SATC’ STARS RESPOND TO CHRIS NOTH ALLEGATIONS

Releasing a statement through all of their social media accounts, the three Sex and the City stars responded to allegations made by multiple women that their longtime co-star, Chris Noth, sexually assaulted the accusers during incidents back in 2005 and 2012.

Writing that they were “deeply saddened” to hear of the allegations, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon stated that they supported the women who came forward and commended them for their bravery. Chris Noth, who played Mr. Big on the HBO series for decades, denied the allegations, which came out after he was killed off the sequel series And Just Like That.

'Bachelorette' Michelle Young and her new fiance Nayte Olukoya
‘Bachelorette’ Michelle Young and her new fiance Nayte Olukoya. Photo Credit: ABC/Disney

‘BACHELORETTE’ MICHELLE YOUNG PICKED HER MAN

In the season finale of The Bachelorette on Tuesday, Minnesota teacher Michelle Young accepted the proposal from contestant Nayte Olukoya. The two have reportedly already put down a down payment on a house together and are thinking about the summertime for a potential wedding ceremony.

It was the first time in Bachelor nation history that both participants at the end of the season were Black, for both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, as well as the first season in a while in which the ending did not come attached with controversy. Wishing the best to the happy couple!

‘THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS’ OFFERED SOME NOSTALGIA

Fans were treated to another outing in “the Matrix” on Wednesday when director Lana Wachowski returned for the fourth installment in the famous sci-fi/action franchise. In a story that poked fun at reboots and the companies who demand them, The Matrix Resurrections played on nostalgia and a celebration of the original trilogy.

Co-stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returned as “Neo” and “Trinity,” the couple so in love that even the digital prison of “the Matrix” couldn’t keep apart, backed by appearances from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a young “Morpheus,” Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, and Jessica Henwick.

Keanu Reeves, back as Neo in 'The Matrix Resurrections' after nearly 20 years
Keanu Reeves, back as Neo in ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ after nearly 20 years. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

DENZEL WASHINGTON RECEIVED RAVE REVIEWS

Critics are loving Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand’s performances in The Tragedy of Macbeth, the latest film adaptation of the Shakespearean drama by director Joel Coen. The cinematography for the upcoming, black-and-white film also looks gorgeous, but film aficionados are calling Coen’s version “above all, a triumph of casting.”

Denzel Washington was already nominated for a Best Actor – Golden Globe for his Macbeth performance and will presumably be up for an Academy Award come April 2022, as well. General audiences will have their first chance to see the film when it premieres in theaters on Christmas Day, or at home when viewers can stream in on Apple TV+ starting Jan. 14.