New Infection Record, Lee Time Capsule, and December's Most-Read Stories Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Dec. 29, and we're covering the COVID-19 surge, a Virginia time capsule, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].


Editor's note: The 1440 team will be spending time with family and friends over the New Year's holiday—this will be our last morning email until Monday, Jan. 3. Keep an eye out for our end-of-year recap on Friday, and have a great holiday break!

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Daily Infection Record

The US is currently averaging more than 265,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, surpassing the country's January previous peak. Monday set a single-day record of just over 512,000 thousand reported cases. Experts say the surge is due to the spread of the omicron variant, increased testing, and a reporting backlog from the holiday weekend.


Separately, officials revised their estimates of the spread of the omicron variant in the US (see data). Previously believed to have made up almost 73% of new cases, revisions show the variant made up 22% of new cases for the week ending Dec. 18, increasing to almost 59% last week. 


The number of average daily cases marks a rise of almost 120% over the past two weeks. More than 73,000 patients are currently hospitalized, up 15% over the same timeframe, while deaths have also risen by about 15%, to an average of around 1,450 per day.

Denver Shooting

Details began to emerge yesterday around a shooting spree in the Denver area that left five people dead and three others injured. The suspect was also killed after a shootout with police. 


The string of attacks included shootings at five separate locations across the city, beginning in central downtown. The suspect is believed to have opened fire a few blocks away, killing one, and again in the nearby vicinity, though no one was injured. The suspect ultimately fled into the nearby city of Lakewood, where he reportedly shot and killed a hotel clerk. Officials say at least three of the shootings took place at or near tattoo shops, though no link between victims has been identified. 


Police identified the shooter as 47-year-old Lyndon McLeod. A possible motive has not yet been revealed. 

Lee Time Capsule Opened

Conservation experts confirmed yesterday the authenticity of a time capsule pulled from the base of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The statue was installed in Richmond, Virginia, in 1890, but became the focus of racial and social justice protests in the city last summer. It was dismantled in September, with the 40-foot-tall pedestal removed this month.


The discovery marks a successful end to a monthslong search for the hidden container, which had been referenced in contemporaneous accounts during the memorial's dedication. Experts took a first look inside the capsule yesterday—among other items were books, newspapers, currency, ammunition, and a Bible.


The box did not appear to include a rare photo of President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination, which some believed was added to the capsule. See video from the opening here.

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Returns as of 12/21/21

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> John Madden, Pro Football Hall of Famer, media personality, and namesake of popular "Madden" video game franchise, dies unexpectedly at 85 (More) | Sports world reacts to Madden's death (More)


> Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver make divorce final after 10-year separation (More) | Nicole Young, former wife of music produced Dr. Dre, awarded $100M in divorce settlement (More)


> NFL and players association agree on new protocols, setting isolation at five days for players testing positive for COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status (More)

Science & Technology

In partnership with Brilliant

> In neuroprosthetic first, patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, send social media messages via a brain-computer interface (More)


> Ocean researchers build the first extensive 3D maps of the world's oxygen-depleted waters; zones are nearly unlivable for the majority of marine life (More)


> Advanced imaging techniques allow scientists to image the 3,500-year-old body of King Amenhotep I without removing wrappings (More)

From our partners: Learn differently in 2022. Brilliant is an interactive web- and app-based STEM learning platform, and it's the best place to go to learn something new or brush up on skills. With more than 60 math, science, and computer science courses, their content is engaging, visually stimulating, and helps you truly understand the material by doing the work yourself. Kick-start your next educational journey today.

Business & Markets

> US stock markets end mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.6%) as investors weigh omicron variant risks (More)


> Approximately 2,800 more flights canceled globally Tuesday due to staffing shortages from the omicron variant (More)


> US health officials monitoring or investigating over 85 cruise ships with reported COVID-19 outbreaks on board, or roughly three-quarters of all cruise ships under US jurisdiction (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Harry Reid, former Democratic Senate majority leader, passes away at age 82; the five-term senator oversaw the passage of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (More)


> Prosecutors decline to charge former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) over two Westchester County sexual assault allegations; officials say evidence was credible but did not meet state statutory requirements to pursue a criminal case (More)


> Lake Tahoe, California, breaks 51-year-old December snowfall record, with storms dumping more than 16 feet in December (More) | Consecutive holiday storms leave travelers stranded; see photos here (More)



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Returns as of 12/21/2021

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Editor's note: More than 4 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in December. Enjoy!


(12/8/21) The year's most mispronounced words.


(12/13/21) America's 10 hottest real estate markets for 2022.


(12/27/21) Google Earth captures a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

New year, new inbox? Make 2022 the year you remove ads from 1440, with 1440 Premium. It's the best way to support our team and make 1440 a faster read than ever. Subscribe for the cost of two cups of coffee per month.

(12/7/21) Chinese rover spots a "mystery hut" on the moon.


(12/9/21) The year's most ridiculous pet photos.


(12/15/21) Photos of Ethiopia's "church forests."


(12/23/21) When children are in charge of holiday lights.


(12/20/21) The 50 best photographs from 2021


(12/6/21) The year's best jokes. (paywall, New Yorker)


(12/7/21) Scientists capture footage of rare giant phantom jellyfish.


(12/16/21) The best road trip in each state


(12/21/21) The 51 best (and weirdest) charts of the year.  


(12/21/21) Archaeologists uncover a family of pristine mammoths.


(12/20/21) The world's most-admired people.


(12/8/21) Stunning snapshots of a winter garden's animal visitors


(12/15/21) Three in 10 Americans are religiously unaffiliated.


(12/13/21) Clickbait: Bear cub goes beast mode on an inflatable reindeer. (w/video)


Historybook: President Andrew Johnson born (1808); Texas becomes the 28th US state (1845); US Army kills over 250 Lakota people at Wounded Knee (1890); Actress Mary Tyler Moore born (1936).


"Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you."

- Mary Tyler Moore

Have a great holiday weekend.

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