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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 15, 2020 2:06am-2:36am PST

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♪ 9 chicken-seals screaming as my neighbor gave to me ♪ i'm sorry! i'm sorry! duh, duh, duh. [ gasps ] go to tonight is it the beginning of the end of the pandemic? the first covid vaccinations administered in the u.s. the most ambitious vaccination effort in the nation's history now under way. health care workers lining up to receive their shots. among the very first, a nurse on the front lines in new york city her message, healing is coming. tonight inside the massive rollou mission, the vast network transporting millions of doses nationwide. the help arriving just as the u.s. surpasses a chilling milestone. 300,000 covid deaths hospitals under siege and new crackdowns across the country. this just in, attorney general william barr resigning two week
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after saying there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. the electoral college voting to make joe biden's victor official the president-elect addressing the nation tonight. the powerful nor'easter taking aim. could be the biggest snowstorm to hit the northeast in years. will it delay your holiday packages the explosive ne report of that plot to poison a critic of vladimir putin what a massive investigation has uncovered. beginning our week long tribute to teachers, amid the pandemic, going above and beyond to reach their students this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. a flood of emotions as we come on the air tonight. obviously the new tangible hope many of us are feeling at witnessing the sight of americans finally receiving a covid vaccine but even as the first shots were being celebrated before tv cameras and hospitals across the country, the incessant count of those we have
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lost in this struggle ticked above the 300,000 mark sadly we are still losing badly to the coronavirus. but tonight with vaccinations ramping up we are now fighting back tom costello on today's historic moment. >> reporter: in every corner of the country, americans have been rolling up their sleeves today. front line medical workers in e.r.s icus and covid units who have seen firsthand the pandemic's horrors among the first, sandra lindsey, critical care nurse in new york >> i feel hopeful today. relieved i feel like healing is coming. >> reporter: because minor side effects can cause some people to miss a day or two of work, hospitals are staggering who gets it when >> all done. not too bad. >> reporter: at methodist health in dallas, teresa matta who cleans rooms at the hospital was a the front of the line.
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>> they tell me i am the first person to get the vaccine. wahoo! >> reporter: across the country, hope that this is a game changer. >> once we get enough people to get this vaccinated we ca kiss covid good-bye. >> reporter: after overnight rush delivers to fedex and u.p.s. shipments began arriving early this morning. fedex's first delivery was at 5:53 a.m. to a hospital in boston u.p.s.'s first was at 7:23 a.m. in winston-salem, north carolina nationwide 145 sites received shipments today. by the end of the week, 2.9 million doses will arrive at 636 locations in all 50 states. the first priority medical workers and nursing home residents and staff. next up, teachers, firefighters, police officers and food handlers then those 65 and older or with preexisting conditions about to turn 80, dr. anthony fauci expects to get his shot within a week or two. >> i had been saying by my calculation, sometime by the end of march, the beginning
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of april, that the normal healthy man and woman in the street who has no underlying conditions would likely get it. >> reporter: vaccinations started today in hard-hit new orleans. nbc's sam brock talked to icu nurse lindsay o'quinn. >> in the last nine months, how many times do you think you have cried tears of pain? >> a lot >> hundreds? >> yeah. i could do it right now. >> reporter: the most ambitious vaccination program in history is only just beginning. vaccinations at nursing homes should begin next week. meanwhile, moderna's vaccine could receive fda approval within ten days lester >> all right tom, thank you. as those shipments are delivered across the country we wante to take a closer look tonight at one city and one hospital that received the vaccine nbc's gabe gutierrez is in columbus, ohio. >> reporter: this was much more than a special delivery it was history in columbus, ohio, nbc news had exclusive access as this life
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changing cargo was loaded this morning. the vaccine shipment driven overnight from u.p.s.'s hub i kentucky after flying from the pfizer plant in michigan. here it was loaded on to this delivery truck. rarely has cargo been this precious. imagine being the u.p.s. worker driving it. >> some day my kids will tell their kids when the vaccine was released i was there delivering it. it's pretty special. >> reporter: just after 9:00 a.m., the truck pulled into the ohio state universit wexner medical center. then shot after shot after shot 30 front line workers vaccinated in minutes. >> this is the lifeline for me. the lifeline for our country and our world. >> reporter: phillip gradowski is a nurse in the covid icu are you exhausted? >> yeah. you know, i'm tired of patients dying with their family members on the phone and not able to see them i'm tired of being worried about bringing it home to my three boys and my husband.
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sorry. yeah >> reporter: dr. mercy dixon works in the e.r. when you got that shot in the arm today, what went through your head >> i thought, this is amazing. minorities and especially the black community are disproportionately affected in terms of the deaths and covid and the vaccine to me is an opportunity to close some of that gap. >> reporter: now this hospital will distribute the rest of its 975 doses. who knew that something so small could loom so large? >> gabe, i know you covered some rough moments in this pandemic what was it like to see the vaccines finally roll today >> reporter: well, lester, it's been 329 days since the first covid case was diagnosed in the u.s. and we have been through so many hospitals throughout this country over the past few months this is the most hopeful day i have seen all year. lester >> gabe, thanks very much. many americans
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including some in health care remain skeptical about getting vaccinated federal health officials even plan to launch a national campaign to boost confidence stephanie gosk reports. >> we know you probably have some questions about covid vaccines. >> reporter: washington state wants to answer people's questions. just 1 of 18 state that told nbc news they will be rolling out vaccine confidence campaigns while 39% of u.s. adults say they probably would not get vaccinated >> we need to spend every minute we have between now and vaccine availability building that trust. >> reporter: genesis health care runs more than 300 nursing home facilities in 24 states >> i know that there are people within our organization and within society in general that have a lot of unanswered questions. >> reporter: melissa williams is a nurse in philadelphia. >> i don't know if i'm going to be the first one to line up to take it that's what i'm saying am i going to get it in the future? yes. >> reporter: the president of the american nurses association enrolled himself in a vaccine trial to set an example.
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have you heard people say, i'm not taking that thing >> definitely. i truly have. >> reporter: earnest grant worries about the black community as well where there is less vaccine trust than the wider public. >> seeing more black and brown people, maybe celebrities even, rolling up their sleeves, that's going to go a long way >> reporter: others will look to their doctors for answers. >> physicians and other health care workers are vaccine's best ambassadors and our advice to our patients carries a lot of weight when they make vaccine decisions. >> reporter: the wait for most will be months >> it's safe it's okay. and we need to do it. >> reporter: those who aren't first are watching closely stephanie gosk, nbc news. the vaccines point to a brighter future but the here and now only became darker today when we crossed that 300,000 covid death threshold. if i were to begin reading aloud all the names of those we have lost nonstop it would be ten days before i finished
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tonight miguel almaguer on these desperate hours. >> reporter: inside some of the very hospitals where vaccines arrived today covid patients are tonight fighting for their lives with our nation surpassing yet another grim milestone, 300,000 deaths, an american is now dying every 36 seconds, a vaccine will not help those sick now or those who become infected before the rollout is complete. >> the vaccine right now is not a substitute for the normal standard public health measures of wearing a mask, keeping your distance, avoiding congregate crowded sections and particularly indoors >> reporter: as many hospitals reach a breaking point, some using overflow surge tents in parking lots an alarming number are at 90% capacity. with some of california and nearly all of mississippi running out of icu beds over the last 5 days in the u.s. we added 1 million new infections
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in new jersey 1 out of every 500 residents have died from covid trying to slow what appears to be a surge in new york city, a ban on indoor dining took effect today but out west - >> open restaurant now. >> reporter: protests and defiance as some restaurant owners refuse to close outdoor services there are livelihoods and lives being lost last month nurse lindsay fairchild was on the other side of the front lines taking this picture from a window as her father slipped away. >> in taking that photo, like this is the reality of what covid really looks like. >> reporter: tonight heartbreak amid hope a vaccine is here but for most americans it is still out of reach. miguel almaguer, nbc news. now to the other major breaking news tonight, president trump announcing attorney general william barr has resigned effective next week after barr contradicted his
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claims of voter fraud. hallie jackson joins us now. hallie, what do we know about this? >> reporter: it is unusual an attorney general would leave this close to the end of an administration but it is not altogether unexpected. the president has been fuming for weeks according to sources familiar with his thinking after barr publicly said he has not seen widespread voter fraud so far people close to barr say for his part he was considering departing by the end of the year even before that. the president describes their relationship as very good and barr's resignation letter is very complimentary, praising what he calls president trump's historic record. barr is set to leave december 23rd and the deputy attorney general will step in until inauguration day. lester >> hallie jackson, thanks very much president-elect joe biden took another critical step toward the white house today with the vote by the country's electors known as the electoral college formalizing his victory. here's pete williams. >> reporter: this is what the actual vote for president looks like. >> 20 votes for the honorable joseph r.
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biden. >> for president, donald j. trump. >> joseph r. biden has received 16 vote for president of the united states. >> reporter: 538 presidential electors met around the country pledged to vote for the winner of the popular vote in their states. >> it is not just tradition but to sho folks especially now more than ever our system works. >> reporter: this process nearly as old as the nation has never before received this much attention. in michigan the state capitol where the electors met was closed to normal business over what officials said were security concerns. as expected, joe biden received 306 electoral votes. donald trump 232 >> in this battle for the soul of america, democracy prevailed. we the people voted. faith in our institutions held. >> reporter: the number of election lawsuits is now down to a trickle without a single significant trump victory and legal experts say after today's vote the ability to change th result in court is gone. >> everything up until
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now has been a prelude to this official moment today and the constitution makes today both the day and the last day. >> reporter: the electoral college ballots now go to washington to be counted in a joint session of congress january 6th. but president trump still refuses to concede and today one of his closest advisers told fox new that his supporters will conduct their own electoral voting >> an ultimate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we are going to send the results up to congress this will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open >> reporter: there is no way to present the alternative slate of electors officiall and besides it would take a vote of both the house and senate to accept them and that won't happen with the democrats in control of the house lester >> pete williams tonight, thank you. the department of homeland security became the latest federal agency reported to have been a target of russian hackers breaking into its email system
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the treasury and commerce departments have also reportedly been targeted. the full extent of the cyber attack is not yet clear. we'll turn now t the explosive new details of a poisoning of a russian opposition leader who was almost killed last summer it's said to be th strongest evidence yet that the russian government was behind the attack richard engel has more for us. >> reporter: alexey navalny, an outspoken critic of vladimir putin, was on a flight over siberia when he suddenly began to moan in agony german doctors said he was poisoned by a nerve agent. behind the attack, a special chemical weapons division of the russian intelligence service, the fsb, according to the investigative news site bellingcat which analyzed over 100,000 phone and internet connections, some bought on the black market christo grozev is a lead researcher. >> the thing tha totally shocked me was that russia maintains a murder machine within the downtown
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moscow that employs 30 people who are trained medics plus trained chemists plus trained muscle. >> reporter: author adrei soldatov is one of the world's leading experts on russian intelligence what do you make of these claims, these accusations by bellingcat are they credible? >> yes i think they are actually very credible. >> reporter: a spokesman for the kremlin once again denied involvement in navalny's poisonin and that it maintains a special chemical weapons hit team but experts say today's report could set back russia's activities by forcing the kremlin to do damage control. lester >> all right richard, thanks. we're watching for a major winter storm that could be the strongest in years to hit the northeast al roker is tracking it al, what can we expect and when >> lester, this could be the strongest snowstorm for the northeast in over five years. 46 million people at risk with winter storm watches up from new england to the appalachians this storm system
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comes out of the southern plains. by wednesday, reaches the east coast with a coastal low forming bringing snow and wind the impacts will lessen overnight but before it's all over we could be looking at 2 to 6 inches of snow in d.c. 6 to 10 in philadelphia upwards of 18 in harrisburg and a foot from new york to hartford with less in boston we are going to watch the track very closely. lester >> all right, al i know you will. thanks very much in 60 seconds, how that big storm could delay your holiday gifts. what you need to know.
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with that winter storm we told you about taking aim our jo ling kent explains how the blast of snow during this very busy time of year could prevent your holiday packages from arriving on time. >> reporter: it is the perfect storm for a holiday shipping nightmare. a historic surge in online shopping and rough winter weather baring down on the east coast just 11 days until christmas. as major carriers also juggle covid vaccine deliveries to hospitals across the country.
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>> compared to normal shipping volume this year's christmas volume has been unheard of and unprecedented that we have ever seen. >> reporter: facing know nature's latest wrath, u.p.s. tells nbc news its own meteorologists have contingency plans in place to help route packages around the storm adding they're completely focused on delivering packages on time tomorrow is the deadline for ground shipping with u.p.s., fedex and the post office friday the last day for first class mail and next monday for three-day shipping with fedex and u.p.s after that, you'll have to get creative to avoid spending even more on shipping to avoid shipping entirely buy online and pick up in store use a rapid delivery service like uber or instacart to get your gifts on the same day or call up a local small business in the community and arrange for curbside pickup. lester >> all right jo, thanks. up next, the growing backlash following that controversial op-ed about the next first lady
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as dr. jill biden prepares to assume the role of first lady a controversial op-ed in "the wall street journal" criticizing her doctor title sparked a firestorm and a national conversation about sexism here's andrea mitchell >> reporter: like many people with doctorates, jill biden calls herself dr. biden. think of dr. kissinger. but joseph epstein, a
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former university english instructor who has a bachelor's degree argued biden should drop the doctor from her name because she is not a medical doctor. >> from the moment i stepped into the community college thought this is it i'm home >> reporter: dr. biden earned her doctorate in education from the university of delaware and has taught a community colleges for 35 years. >> i have always loved the sounds of a classroom. >> reporter: the op-ed drawing fire in part for its tone. epstein addressing biden in his opening line as madame first lady, mrs. biden, jill, kiddo. perhaps he should know better than to mes with a woman who body blocked a protester from getting to her husband last march a spokesman for biden calling the column disgusting and sexist. doug emhoff, vice president-elect kamala harris's husband tweeting, this story would not have been written about a man. michelle obama writing all too often our accomplishments are met with skepticism, even derision. biden taking the high road tweeting, together we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated rather than diminished
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"the wall street journal" editorial page editor called the criticism overwrought. dr. biden known to her students at dr. b plans to continue teaching as first lady lester >> okay. andrea, thank you. up next, keeping kids in school and together, one teacher's inspiring idea
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we're dedicating our "inspiring america" series this week to teachers in this tough time. here's kevin tibbles on one teacher thinking outside the box.
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>> reporter: here learning has no boundaries fourth grade teacher lindsay earl wanted her pewaukee, wisconsin, class to stay safe. >> this time we're going to do -- >> reporter: so she moved outdoors. >> i think when children are outdoors there's definitely more attention and focus. >> reporter: the three "rs" along with fresh air, lindsay's family even helped build the structure. >> it's more fun because we get to be outside. >> reporter: soon the whole school decided to join in. >> in life things are thrown at us all the time and we need to learn to adapt. >> reporter: 11 classrooms all surrounded by 14 acres of pure mother nature. >> it was kind of fun to like doing the woods stuff. >> reporter: and wisconsin winters are cold. >> we brave it we stay warm. >> reporter: but education is all about adapting just like adapting to the pandemic >> my grea grandmother said worrying is like a rocking chair. you can go back and forth but it doesn't
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get you anywhere. >> reporter: when you're learning outdoors, the sky's the limit. kevin tibbles, nbc news, wisconsin. >> putting on those thinking caps. a programming note tomorrow on "today" we'll be live from food drives across the country sharing ways you can help from home that's "nightly news." thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each please take care of yourself and each other. >> claire: hey, mom. i'm just walking past the pub, and i thought maybe you and i could have dinner together. >> belle: oh, honey, i'm sorry. i'm working on grandpa john's case. i have to file a motion in the morning, so probably just gonna get something in the microwave. >> claire: no problem. i'll bring you home some dessert. >> belle: okay, see you soon. >> claire: looks like i'm eating alone. >> charlie: not necessarily. >> claire: [laughs softly] >> charlie: do you mind if i join you? >> claire: i would love that. >> charlie: you know what?
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me too. >> claire: [laughs] >> xander: ava vitali is alive and back in salem. >> sarah: who's ava vitali? >> xander: i can't believe it. >> sarah: oh, my god, are you gonna tell me who this is? [intense dramatic music] ♪ that's angela vandekamp. >> xander: what? >> sarah: i'm telling you, that's the woman i saw with philip. >> xander: bloody hell. angela vandekamp and ava vitali are the same person? >> sarah: the same person? that means... >> xander: that means the woman that philip is working with is ava vitali. >> ava: you need to answer your damn phone. call me. we need to talk about tripp. [knocking on door] hey--um... >> philip: you don't look happ


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