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A Multnomah County winter warming shelter.
A Multnomah County winter warming shelter. MOTOYA NAKAMURA / MULTNOMAH COUNTY

Good morning, Portland! This is, I'm sad to say, my very last Good Morning, News post—I'm moving on to a new job in the new year— but I swear I won't get too wishy-washy about it. Thanks for reading my pre-caffeinated rantings every Tuesday and Thursday morning for the last three years!

And one last time, here are the headlines.

• Weekly COVID-19 cases are now up 25 percent in Oregon, thanks to a little stinker I like to call "the omicron variant." And as the Oregonian reports, even that increase "almost certainly is an undercount because some counties didn’t report their case numbers from the long Christmas weekend."

• In case you hadn't noticed, it's cold outside. So cold, in fact, that houseless services in both Portland and Bend are scrambling to provide emergency shelter for unhoused folks, as temperatures stay below freezing.

• And in other "It's cold outside" news, be careful out there!

• The local and state criminal justice sector spent 2021 stretched between reacting to a global pandemic and calls for reform. Many of the issues it began to address will require years of commitment to see through, while others—like casually ending the death penalty—seemed to happen overnight. Catch up on everything in the Mercury's top criminal justice stories of 2021. And stay tuned for more top story roundups this week!

• Yesterday, the CDC cut the suggested asymptomatic COVID quarantine period to just five days, in a transparent bid to allow employers to force their workers back to the job sooner. Cool country!

• Meanwhile, undertakers and faith leaders around the world are joining the effort to convince vaccine-skeptical folks to get their shots. As one South African funeral house owner put it, "Vaccinate, vaccinate! We don’t want to see you coming to our offices.”

• LOL:

• Last year saw a record-low for flu cases, a weird side benefit of masking up and social distancing thanks to COVID. But this year, as Americans continue to pretend COVID is over, the flu is like, "I'm back, bitches!".

• Progressives have quite a few valid bones to pick with President Joe Biden, but here's one thing he's doing right: Nominating a slew of qualified and diverse judges to the federal bench. After the disastrous impact Trump had on the judiciary, this is helping reverse some of that damage.

• And finally: Yes, I did name the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City as one of the best TV shows of the year! What are they gonna do, fire me?