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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  January 2, 2021 2:06am-2:36am PST

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tonight, as we begin a new year, growing fears of another covid surge. that highly infectious new strain now found in a third state the worrying images of crowds ringing in 2021, including the president's family, despite health officials' urgent pleas to stay home hospitals overwhelmed. some preparing to decide which patients get lifesaving care. long lines and growing frustration over the slow vaccine rollout. and questions tonight. why one drugstore skipped over seniors, who were supposed to get the vaccine first. the pharmacist under arrest did he destroy hundreds of vaccine doses intentionally? and what about the
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dozens who received the expired shot outbreaks at supermarkets nearly 150 employees testing positive at a single costco. how safe are essential-store workers and customers? the major winter storm on the move. drivers stranded in snow overnight 50 million americans in its path. for the first time, congress overrides a veto from president trump. and how vice president pence is responding to new republican efforts to get him to overturn the election's results. plus, elmo's important, new mission, as "sesame street" goes where it's never gone before. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt >> good evening, and happy new year i am peter alexander, in for lester. we start off tonight with the increasingly urgent challenges in the fight against coronavirus. growing fears that last night's holiday gatherings will compound an already overwhelming surge o cases in much of the country. and new frustration that distribution of
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those vaccines, that offer so much hope, is still far behind schedule we have also now learned florida has become the third state to identify a case of that new, highly contagious strain of the virus. we begin tonight with nbc's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: there was reason to celebrate the end of 2020. but this is exactly what authorities feared would unfold. large and small gatherings, where the virus can quickly spread including this one, attended by donald trump jr. at mar-a-lago the backdrop of a carefree new year's eve coming just hours after doctors confirmed at least four additional cases of the new, highly contagious, variant strain of covid. >> it will lead to a lot more deaths over a period of time just because there is more cases this is going to be a race against time as we try to vaccinate our population >> reporter: for the first time, one of the new cases has been detected in florida.
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as the sunshine state shattered a daily record for new infections, officials confirmed the new strain has infected a man in his 20s with no travel history the three other cases of the variant strain were identified in southern california, where hospitals are on the brink. >> we are admitting patients faster than we discharge them. in this battle, we are so outnumbered >> reporter: in san diego county, which is now reporting a record number of covid deaths, one patient suspected of having the virus's mutation is hospitalized in a region short on beds. >> we're at the stage, now, beyond just describing this as waves or surges, or even surges on top of surges we now are at a viral tsunami. >> reporter: with roughly one out of every 16 americans testing positive for the virus in 2020, tonight, field hospitals in massachusetts and georgia serve as a reminder this new year brings new challenges
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>> we're overwhelmed we're stressed we're -- we're stretched so thin. it's pretty unimaginable >> reporter: the page has turned on the calendar, but the battle still rages against the pandemic here, in hard-hit los angeles county, if and when care needs to be rationed, triage teams at some hospitals are prepared to start scoring patients on their best chances of survival those deemed with the best opportunity at recovery will be the first to get treatment. peter. >> miguel almaguer in southern california tonight. miguel, thank you. and now, to the vaccine and why millions of doses that have been distributed are not getting to americans faster and what officials are saying about a pharmacist accused of destroying 500 doses do patients who received them have to worry? more, now, from ron allen. >> reporter: tonight, new bumps in the rocky vaccine rollout. kentucky officials revealing a mixup at a local drugstore gave vaccines meant for
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nursing-home residents to the general public. >> there is going to be mistakes. there just is. >> reporter: in florida, some elderly residents have been standing in line up to eight hours or more to roll up their sleeves for a shot. >> we got here about 7:00 last evening. >> reporter: in wisconsin, where a pharmacy worker was arrested for deliberately spoiling 500 vaccine doses -- his motivation unknown -- health officials reaching out to more than 50 people given those shots. >> there is no evidence that the vaccinations pose any harm to them, other than being potentially less effective >> reporter: nationwide, fewer than 3 million shots, so far, of the more than 12 million doses distributed to states by the federal government far short of the 20 million dosage goal the trump administration set for the end of 2020. >> we really need to rethink or think more intensively about how we are going to reach out and help the states >> reporter: according to our nbc news state tracker, mississippi, alabama, and kansas have the lowest vaccination rates, per
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capita while west virginia, south dakota, and new mexico, have the highest. in connecticut, the governor touting progress. >> we're on track to complete everybody having their first vaccine in the nursing homes by the end of next week. >> reporter: here, in new york city, a bold new year's resolution. vaccinate 1 million people in the month of january. the mayor conceding that can't happen without more money from state and federal government >> we're going to need to go faster to beat back the coronavirus to restart our economy. to protect people's lives. to recover >> reporter: so far, new york city has administered fewer than a third of the roughly 400,000 doses it's received. so here, like in many cities and states across the country, there is a very long way to go. peter. >> ron allen ron, thank you and supermarkets have remained a lifeline throughout this pandemic. but tonight, new numbers show just how widespread the virus has become among those who work there steve patterson on the risks for them, and for their customers. >> reporter: every
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day, they brave big crowds and long lines. this cell phone video illustrates the risk grocery store workers face just by being at work. >> i do not care about people's lives, you are inconsiderate. >> reporter: the union for retail food workers says more needs to be done to protect workers. >> you hear the cdc. they basically say the following to you stay away from enclosed spaces with large gatherings of people that's exactly what all these retail-food workers are going through, every single day. >> reporter: across the country, more than 20,000 grocery store workers have been infected or exposed to covid-19, including 145 workers sick at a costco in washington state. and in hard-hit la county, more than 850 tested positive in the last two months alone, with outbreaks at 137 stores, according to numbers obtained by nbc 4 los angeles. >> it's so busy and there's so many people, of course, we
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were bound to get it >> reporter: several chains have implemented safeguards like plexiglass. and signs to mark social distancing. ralph's said they have invested over a billion dollars in employee rewards and safety measures. but researchers say they can only do so much just one person's cough can potentially spread virus particles several aisles over. >> grocery store workers, who spend many, many, many hours out interacting with people in that environment where people have to go, they are at the highest risk and that's why we start to see more of these outbreaks during this time of a surge >> reporter: the best thing workers say the public can do to help is to stay home as much as possible. >> if you go get tested, stay home. don't come in the stores it's not fair to the workers if you think you might have covid, and then you're coming grocery shopping it's just not fair >> reporter: the cdc is recommending that grocery-store employees, along with other essential workers, are included in the next round of vaccinations, which could come within weeks. peter. >> steve patterson
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steve, thank you we are tracking a major storm barreling across much of the country tonight. nearly 50 million people under winter-weather alerts. the latest now from anne thompson. >> reporter: the new year is off to a slippery start across much of the nation's midsection with dangerous driving conditions from missouri to texas. 14 inches of snow in big spring, 300 miles west of dallas, trapped people overnight on this highway. just too much for some to navigate. while, in oklahoma. >> oh, my goodness thunder -- did you see that thunder snow >> reporter: up to six inches fell in oklahoma city, as ice created a dramatic silhouette in norman pretty, but perilous leaving thousands without power across the state. this tree was no match for the ice in missouri igniting a fire as it brought down an electrical line. >> has the power company shut off the power yet? >> reporter: now, the storm moves north and east the snow is predicted
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to change to freezing rain and rain, offering a soggy start to 2021. anne thompson, nbc news for the first time in president trump's nearly four years in office, an overwhelming, bipartisan rebuke. congress overriding a veto from the president. here is kelly o'donnell. >> reporter: tonight, a blow to president trump from the republican-led senate. >> the yeas are 81 the nays are 13. >> reporter: the first override of a trump veto and senators save the $741 billion defense bill the president had blocked. >> the objection to the president of the united states to the contrary, notwithstanding. >> reporter: but mr. trump's fury over losing the election is erupting with more conflict inside his party. a twitter assault on senator john thune, who said biden's win will not be overturned the president urged south dakota governor, christy gnome, to run against him. while stoking expectations for his supporters by promoting a big
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protest rally in washington, d.c., january 6th. that day, vice president mike pence must preside over the final counting of electoral votes. but he is fighting off a lawsuit that seeks to give pence power to toss out some states' votes. enough to flip biden's victory to trump government lawyers defending pence belittled the claim for suing, ironically, the very person whose power they seek to promote. making this all the more awkward, the suit was filed by a group of trump loyalists, including a texas congressman, against the vice president, who is widely viewed as unfailingly loyal to president trump peter. >> kelly, thank you. the new year is ushering in new laws across the country, including one that impacts anyone who wants to board a plane. pete williams, with what you need to know. >> reporter: starting today, hawaii becomes the first state in the nation to ban the sale or distribution of sunscreens, including
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some of the most popular brands, that contain two chemicals the state says can harm the environment specifically, coral reefs and other forms of marine life. >> products without oxybenzone are available, and we do actually pass them out and recommend people use them >> reporter: a new law in delaware bans single-use plastic carryout bags. the state says the ban will cut down on litter and the amount of plastic in landfills. beginning today, drivers in arizona and virginia can be pulled over and ticketed by police if they're holding a cell phone behind the wheel it's a further crackdown on distracted driving that governor doug ducey says will make the roads safer. >> that text message can wait it's not worth your life >> reporter: 2021 brings a security requirement first proposed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. then, delayed, year after year, and postponed again in 2020 because of the pandemic but the government says, beginning this october, anyone wishing to board an airplane flight must
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present a real i.d. compliant driver's license or passport or military i.d. card the newer licenses all have a star on the upper, right-hand corner, to show they meet the law's tougher standards. >> we want to make sure that we get these i.d.s in the hands of all the traveling public it raises security across the board, and that's what we are looking for at the end of the day >> reporter: starting today, illinois will give every child born or adopted in the state $50 for a college savings account, intended to keep pace with rising tuition. and feel free to toast the new year all over mississippi which, as of today, wiped out all remaining laws that made it illegal to possess alcohol pete williams, nbc news, washington in just 60 seconds, the ski resorts facing a major covid crisis, and how to keep your family safe on the slopes
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this holiday week is often one of the busiest times for ski resorts, but this winter, many of them are facing new challenges molly hunter has more. >> reporter: across the u.s., 9 million skiers and snowboarders support a
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$20 billion snow sports industry. but not this year. >> if i was trying to be an optimist, i'd say it's -- we're going to take a 50% hit. if i was trending more towards realism, i'd think it's probably going to be closer to 65% to 70% off >> reporter: at jay peak in northern vermont, the typically hire 1,500 staff. this year, just 400. and of those, only 200 are actually working the resort also relies on about 50% of its skiers from across the currently-closed canadian border. >> we should be doing 500 or 600 skiers today, and we've got four lift tickets sold >> reporter: vermont has a 14-day quarantine for out of staters, but if you are going to see anywhere this year, the key is planning. >> the days of the fair-weather skier, like myself, oh, it is a blue bird day, let's do it, i think those are over >> reporter: resorts are limiting visitors, so make reservations even as a season ticket holder, everywhere, for everything keep your phone for tickets and contactless payments
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in an outer pocket and tuck your face mask right into your goggles. in the european alps, resorts are wary o making the same mistakes as last year. a ritzy town i austria known for its raging apris scene became one of the biggest outbreaks, leadin to at least 6,000 cases, in more than 40 different countries, including the u.s. as of now, germany and italy are keeping ski resorts shut in france, the slopes but not the ski lifts plan to open and some resorts in austria and switzerland are already open for business. >> i feel extremely safe they are taking all the right precautions. distancing, mask, everything >> reporter: like so much this past year, it can still be fun, just different molly hunter, nbc news, london. we are back in a moment with a surprising way that elmo is helping kids a world away
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it's one of america's iconic children's shows, now helping refugees on the other side of the world. cynthia mcfadden on "sesame street's" new mission. >> reporter: we have come to one of the most beloved streets in the world, sesame street where elmo and abby want to tell us about some of their new friends. >> so, what did you learn about the kids when you were in bangladesh some of them had to move, had to leave their homes. >> that's true elmo's new friends told him they had to leave their homes because it wasn't safe anymore. and that made them feel really sad. >> reporter: but, how
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to help? can a fuzzy, red, little muppet and his pals really make a difference for 700,000 rohingya children? >> when elmo is feeling sad, one thing that helps is to give a big, belly breath. >> i like that >> yeah. >> reporter: and elmo knows that play is serious work, th gateway to learning, both emotionally and intellectually especially, important to these children, refugees from the genocide in myanmar, children without a country to call home. >> we are proven educators. >> reporter: sherry westin is the president of social impact for sesame workshop we traveled to rohingya camps in bangladesh just days before the covid lockdown. >> as far as the eye can see, nothing but tents. over a million people in this one camp and any of these children have experienced unthinkable horror >> reporter: westin is
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convinced, without massive intervention by sesame and their partners, this will likely become a generation who cannot read or write or do simple math. so, early-childhood education. you are a real evangelist for this. >> you know, there is so much science to show if a child is exposed to traumatic experiences and prolonged stress, that it literally debilitates brain development. for us to reach children in those critical, early years, but especially children who have experienced trauma, you know, we can play a significant role >> reporter: elmo, a hit. these videos are just a preview, dubbed so the kids can get an idea of what sesame is developing just for them two new rohingya characters to teach reading and math, along with a big dose of emotional support. >> we are really getting input from the children we want these characters to identify with. >> which picture do you like the most? she likes them all
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>> reporter: meanwhile, on the other side of the camp, a special guest has arrived. >> yes >> reporter: each child is given an opportunity to take a photo with grover. it's the only photograph any of these kids have. let that sink in ten months after our trip, meet two new sesame characters, 6-year-old rohingya twins noor and aziz. part of a $200 million bet on the future. >> for 50 years, we've been addressing really challenging issues from the lens of a child. if we invest in reaching young children in humanitarian settings, it will change the world. ♪ >> reporter: cynthia mcfadden, nbc news. >> such a powerful mission there. when we come back, what you will find in one teacher's garage that's inspiring america.
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finally, tonight, inspiring america, one teacher's incredible gift to her students to keep them reading here is erin mclaughlin >> reporter: when the pandemic forced jennifer martin's 3rd grade class online, she worried about her students, academically and emotionally. so, with the nearest library 17 miles away - >> welcome to ms. martin's neighborhood library. >> reporter: -- martin took matters into her own hands. opening up her garage, now full of stories her students can borrow, anytime.
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and why, a library >> the joy of reading an actual book, and discovering it and claiming it as your own. there's not anything that compares to that. >> reporter: shelves packed with thousands of books masks and social distancing are mandatory. although, some can't contain their excitement. >> thank you >> there's this character that's my favorite. >> it's fun to read. and i love my teacher. >> reporter: moments like this. >> frog went up the. >> reporter: -- are critical to a child's development, and so important for parents. and you want your daughter to excel at learning, especially english? [ speaking foreign language ] >> yeah, and writing. >> reporter: so, you want something different for your daughter >> yeah. >> reporter: by all accounts, ms. martin's library is a huge success. >> we all are missing each other, and even though we can't hug, you are still seeing them, and they are seeing you and it's just that moment of connection >> reporter: she is now working toward building a permanent
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library so that, for all the children in this community, there can be a fairy tale ending erin mclaughlin, nbc news, austin. >> fuel for those kids' minds. that's nightly news for this friday. i'm peter alexander, in for lester. we thank you for watching happy new year, and good night ♪
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>> kelly: ♪ 25 years and my life is still ♪ ♪ tryin' to get up that great bigill ♪ ♪ of hope ♪ for a destination ♪ i realized quickly when i knew i should ♪ ♪ that the world was made up of this brotherhood of man ♪ ♪ for whatever that means ♪ and so i cry sometimes ♪ when i'm lying in bed ♪ just to get it all out ♪ what's in my head ♪ and i, i am feeling ♪ a little peculiar ♪ and so i wake ♪ in the morning ♪ and i step outside ♪ and i take a deep breath ♪ and i get real high ♪ and i scream from the top of my lungs ♪ ♪ "what's going on?" ♪ and i say, hey-ey-ey ♪ hey-ey-ey ♪ i said "hey, what's going on?" ♪

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