A 'cause for concern, not a cause for panic'

·5 min read

There's a new coronavirus variant. Twitter's CEO is fleeting. And the Mets are giving out a record-setting contract.

It's Alex and Julius. Mondays after long, holiday weekends are difficult. We're here to help.

But first, Merriam-Webster selected its 2021 word of the year. Can you guess what it is?

The Short List is a snappy USA TODAY news roundup. Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

Biden says omicron variant will be in US 'sooner or later'

President Joe Biden on Monday called the new coronavirus variant omicron a "cause for concern, not a cause for panic," urging Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. "Sooner or later, we’re going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States," the president said. On Thursday, Biden plans to outline a "detailed strategy" on how the administration will fight the virus in the winter. "Not with shutdowns or lockdowns," he said, "but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

For now, it's a waiting game: Biden's medical adviser Anthony Fauci said it will take about two weeks to get more definitive information about the omicron variant's transmissibility and severity. The variant has been identified in France, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and other countries. Monday, the World Health Organization warned the omicron variant is likely to spread quickly around the globe and could result in "severe consequences."

Parag Agrawal is Twitter's new CEO. Send tweet.

It all started more than 15 years ago when Jack Dorsey announced he was "just setting up my twttr." Now the co-founder (and ex-CEO) of the social media giant is ready to move on and said the company is in an apt position to move on from him. "There aren't many founders that choose their company over their own ego," Dorsey said. "I know we'll prove this was the right move." Taking the helm is Parag Agrawal, who has been with Twitter for more than a decade and served as chief technology officer since 2017. In an email to employees, Agrawal said he is "honored and humbled" to take over as Twitter's next CEO. "I've walked in your shoes, I've seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes," he wrote.

What everyone's talking about

The Short List is free, but several stories we link to are subscriber-only. Consider supporting our journalism and become a USA TODAY digital subscriber today.

Biden's infrastructure plan aims to stop drunken driving. Here's how.

In the near future, cars could automatically detect whether someone is too drunk to drive, according to a provision tucked into President Joe Biden's $1 trillion package to bolster the nation's infrastructure. The law requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create a rule mandating new vehicles be equipped with technology to prevent drunken and impaired driving, beginning no later than 2026. The legislation leaves it to the NHTSA to decide which technology to require, but that could include any device that prevents a driver from operating a vehicle by identifying signs of impairment or detecting a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

Real quick

The New York Mets continue their spending spree 💰

The New York Mets front office continued its quest to bolster the team's roster as it came to an agreement to sign pitcher Max Scherzer on Monday. Scherzer and the Mets agreed to a three-year contract worth $130 million, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. The star pitcher is slated to make about $43 million per year, a record for average annual value. The team reached deals with a trio of position players – Eduardo Escobar (two years, $20 million), Mark Canha (two years, $26.5 million) and Starling Marte (four years, $78 million) – on Friday.

Max Scherzer, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in 2021, has agreed to a record-setting contract with the Mets.
Max Scherzer, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in 2021, has agreed to a record-setting contract with the Mets.

Inspo for the White House holiday decorations? You!

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden unveiled the decorations Monday for their first White House Christmas, "Gifts from the Heart," said to be inspired by people the couple met as they traveled the country this year. The decor features a gigantic gingerbread White House that recognizes workers who persevered through the coronavirus pandemic, while the official Christmas tree – an 18-foot-tall Fraser fir – celebrates the gifts of peace and unity, the White House said. More than 100 volunteers decorated the executive mansion, including the Oval Office, with 41 Christmas trees, about 6,000 feet of ribbon and more than 10,000 ornaments.

The Cross Hall of the White House is decorated for the holidays.
The Cross Hall of the White House is decorated for the holidays.

The best Cyber Monday deals

Cyber Monday 2021 is officially underway. Our team at Reviewed loves great deals on amazing products, and as holiday shopping kicks off in earnest, they've compiled a comprehensive guide to answer all your questions about what, where and when to shop. Find the best deals here.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cyber Monday, omicron variant update and the Mets. It's Monday's news.