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The Philly lab that could spot omicron here | Morning Newsletter

And the driest November in 45 years.

    The Morning Newsletter

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Hope you’re having a good Thursday so far, it’s looking warmer today and almost hitting 60. We’ll talk more about the weather a little later on, specifically a very dry last month.

But first let’s check out a local lab that’s watching for the omicron variant.

— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre,

The omicron variant of the coronavirus will inevitably arrive in the Philly region. When it does get here, there’s a lab at the University of Pennsylvania that’s likely to spot it first.

The Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens is expected to be a critical resource in identifying and tracking the COVID-19 variant. It already sequences genetic material in samples from positive tests, hospitalized patients, and even animals.

Sequencing is crucial to tracking variants. Once scientists know the building blocks that make up the virus’ RNA, they can determine how mutations affect its ability to spread and make people sick. Routine sequencing in South Africa led to the discovery of the omicron variant.

Our reporter Jason Laughlin checks out the Penn lab.

What you should know today

  1. Major League Baseball initiated an owner-approved lockout on Thursday. Phillies writer Scott Lauber answers all your questions about the first baseball work stoppage in 26 years.

  2. The teen suspect in the killing of a Temple student during a botched carjacking surrendered to police.

  3. Philly might change the fees that food-delivery services can charge restaurants after they were capped during the pandemic.

  4. A third man was exonerated in a debunked 30-year-old murder investigation. Two others are suing the city.

  5. The Dr. Oz Show has been taken off the air in Philadelphia and New York now that celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

  6. A King of Prussia man was charged with beating an officer with a Trump flag outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

  7. Stephen Sondheim, the titan of musical theater who died last week, had deep ties to Philly, including the Arden Theatre and George School.

  8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just became the longest-running live-action sitcom ever.

  9. What does omicron mean for holiday travel? We broke it down.

  10. Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

Philadelphia didn’t have much rain or snow this November. And it’s not alone.

We had our driest November in 45 years. And while having a snowless November is the norm for the region, not much of anything fell from the skies last month around here — or in much of the nation.

The upshot is only a small percentage of ski trails in the Northeast are open.

Why so dry? Our reporter Anthony R. Wood asked the experts.

Photo of the day

That’s it for today. Remember, tomorrow is Friday!