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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with local authorities to investigate suspect cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in states other than those where cases have already been reported, its director said on Friday.

There have been cases of Omicron detected in about 40 countries, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing.

“I know that the news is focused on Omicron. But we should remember that 99.9% of cases in the country right now are from the Delta variant. Delta continues to drive cases across the country, especially in those who are unvaccinated,” she added.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Jeff Mason, and Ahmed Aboulenein)

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for former President Donald Trump on Friday urged a U.S. appeals court to find her client immune from author E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit arising from a decades-old rape allegation, with the Biden administration siding with Trump’s argument.

The lawyer, Alina Habba, told a panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that Trump was shielded from Carroll’s lawsuit because he was acting as president when addressing her claims.

She said to rule otherwise could expose presidents to a raft of “frivolous” lawsuits simply for speaking on public issues.

“This is not a political matter,” Habba said. “This is solely about protecting the presidency as an institution.”

Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration has said his Republican predecessor was acting as president when denying Carroll’s claims, even though the claims concerned Trump’s private life and his challenging Carroll’s credibility was “crude and disrespectful.”

Carroll, a longtime magazine columnist, had accused Trump in a June 2019 book excerpt of having raped her in late 1995 or early 1996 in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan.

She sued Trump for defamation in November 2019 after Trump denied knowing her, said “she’s not my type,” and claimed she made up the rape to sell her book.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Six cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been found in Nebraska, the state’s health department said on Friday, marking the sixth U.S. state with confirmed cases.

One case involved a traveler who returned from Nigeria on Nov. 23, while the other five cases were likely exposed through household contact with that individual, the department said.

Only one of the six individuals were vaccinated and none have needed to be hospitalized, it said.

(Reporting by Caitlin Webber and Tim Ahmann; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Tim Ahmann)

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