By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Kokomo

1. A bleak winter ahead

"Disastrous.” That's IU-Northwest Economics Prof. Micah Pollak's forecast for a second COVID perilous winter, mostly among the 50% of Hoosiers who are unvaccinated. Pollak told WRTV on Thursday that while herd immunity is achieved at 80%, states with vaccination rates of 60-70% are experiencing increases in cases.

“So that kind of just means that Indiana's kind of stuck where we are because there's no way we're getting to 80% in the next few weeks,” Pollak said, adding that state and local leaders need to be “shouting from the rooftops” about the need for people to get vaccinated. “We're going to have a big wave and we're going to have maybe a new variant here before too long, and do it for yourself at least if not for, you know, your family and friends and relatives and acquaintances.”

WIBC's Eric Berman: 5,653 new Indiana #coronavirus cases, second straight day over 5K, with 10.7% of today's batch of tests coming back positive. The 7-day positivity rate, which runs a week behind, continues a monthlong rise to 12.7%, highest since Jan 17. Goshen General Hospital: 41 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID, 35 of whom are unvaccinated. That’s the highest number of COVID patients so far this year (WNDU-TV).

2. Rader's advice


Those of us in the Indiana news media - myself, IndyStar's James Briggs and others - have tried over the past year to make the case for Hoosiers to vaccinate, using our columns to shout from the rooftops. Former WTHR-TV reporter Kevin Rader in a Facebook post: "I have decided to get off the sideline when it comes to COVID. Heather and I contracted COVID two weeks ago. Our doctor recommended chest x-rays. Heather's x-ray was clear. Mine, unfortunately, is not. I have an infection in my lungs and am under strict order to try and keep it from getting worse. The last place I want to be is in the hospital. I tell you this because we are both vaccinated, wear our masks even places not requiring them, and find ourselves confronting COVID any way. Take this seriously, folks."

3. Braun takes aim at mandates

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun is taking aim at President Biden's COVID mandate, which require employee testing if they refuse the vaccine ... to protect fellow workers, families, communities. Braun: “President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate for private businesses is not a partisan issue: it jeopardizes the freedoms and livelihoods of Americans in all 50 states, and I hope that more Democratic Senators and Representatives will follow Senator Manchin’s strong lead and stand up against this federal overreach that will wreak havoc on our recovering economy and trample on the rights of millions of Americans.”

4. Hicks on jobs reports

Ball State Prof. Michael J. Hicks on today's federal jobs report: "The November jobs report is notable for what appears to be a disappointing top line jobs number, monthly growth of just 210,000. This comes from the establishment survey of businesses. However, there is evidence that this understates job growth. The household survey reports job growth of 1.1 million over the month. Part of this can be explained by a modest increase in the number of multiple job holders of roughly 85,000 workers.  Still, roughly 800,000 more workers claim new jobs last month than do businesses. At the same time, this jobs report makes large upward revisions to past jobs numbers, just as we have seen in previous months.  These revisions come partially from administrative data on employment."

5. The Kamala & Pete Show

Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg did a North Carolina road strip together. Highlight: Harris pretended to drive an electric bus while laughingly reciting “the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round” while Buttigieg looked on.

Congrats to new Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman, who will be introduced at a 2 p.m. presser today. On Sunday, the 11-1 Irish learn if they make the College Football Playoffs with the title game coming in Indianapolis in January. Have a great weekend, folks, and thanks for reading. It's The Atomic!