tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 5, 2021 2:06am-2:36am PST
tonight growing frustration over the delays in vaccinating americans against covid. the massive lines. seniors waiting overnight for shots. fewer than 5 million vaccinated so far in the u.s. a fraction of the 20 million promised by the end of 2020. the pharmacist in court, why prosecutors say he destroyed 500 doses. the uk ordering a national lockdown as that new covid variant spreads. the new strain detected in a fourth state, new york. is the u.s. doing enough to stop it? fears of a new surge after record travel over the holiday. and the outbreak at a hospital was an inflatable christmas costume to blame.
new fallout from that bombshell recording. president trump pressuring georgia's election chief to find enough votes to overturn biden's victory. did the call break the law? and the unprecedented effort to challenge the electoral college results leaving the republican party divided. the uk blocking extradition of wikileaks founder julian assange to the u.s. our nbc news exclusive with assange's fiancee on his life in hiding the best diets for 2021 to keep that new year's resolution. and the dramatic water rescue caught on camera we talk to the hero rescuer tonight. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening and happy new year it's good to be back with you tonight i what we all hope to be a year of recovery from the pandemic. alarms are sounding this evening about the slow pace of vaccinations, doses distributed but not yet in people's arms across the country many of the most vulnerable left
confused and frustrated as they wait their turn for shots. tonight officials in insist the pace is picking up just as a post-holiday covid surge and a ne variant of the virus raise concerns tom costello tells us where things stand >> reporter: across the country infuriatingly long lines for vaccination. so far fewer than 5 million doses have been administered after the trum administration promised 20 million shots by the end of last week. with 50 different states and distribution plans the hang-up seems to be at the local and state levels. >> only 1 out of 8 vaccines designated for long-term facilities in the u.s. was administered as of january 2. 1 out of 8 that's a highly vulnerable population. >> reporter: in florida senior citizens waited for hours after being told to make an appointment. only to receive messages that all appointments had been filled or that a website crashed. in daytona the line has already formed for tomorrow morning's shots.
>> we are all set. we got a sleeping ba in the backseat and pillows and blankets. because it is going to get cold tonight >> reporter: frustrated publi health experts say it's time for the federal government to help states. former trump fda chief scott gottlieb writing in "the wall street journal" the major pharmacy chains combined can deliver up to 100 million a month. why not get started now? >> the idea that a vast majority of the vaccines we have produced are sitting in freezers across the country and not getting into people's arms is a crisis in the context of how much disease we have in the community >> reporter: today the medical workers who received a vaccinatio three weeks ago began returning for the required follow-up dose calls to delay the second dose or cut doses in half to protect more peopl largely opposed by health experts today moderna said it will up vaccine production by 20%. with the u.s. securing 100 million doses by the end of march another 100 million by june meanwhile wisconsin pharmacist steven
brandenburg charged with deliberately destroying 500 vaccine doses appeared in virtually in court toda today after allegedly telling police he didn't think the vaccines were safe. >> tom, we know there's a couple more vaccine candidates coming down the pike when might they be approved >> reporter: we expect johnson & johnson to go before fda for emergency authorization in february that vaccine requires one shot, not two. astrazeneca's vaccine could be delayed by a few months because of safety concerns that came up during the drug trials. lester >> all right tom costello tonight, thanks. drastic new measures this evening in england a new national lockdown announced there just as the uk began giving people the first shots of the vaccine developed there. richard engel has the latest now from london >> reporter: the uk tonight acknowledged it's losing its battle against the new strain of the virus, up to 70% more contagious and needs to lockdown immediately. england is closing schools and
universities and banning all but essential movement. >> you may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance. >> reporter: prime minister johnson said the lockdown will last until mid-february by then he said the uk will have vaccinated all people over 70, all those in care homes and all front line medical workers as of today the uk began distributing its homegrown oxford astrazeneca vaccine which unlike the pfizer and moderna vaccines doesn't require ultra cold temperatures making it easier to store and distribute. >> why do you think this will change things >> this will change things because it is the light at the end of the tunnel. >> reporter: for the rest of europe the vaccine rollout has been extremely slow. france only recorded 516 vaccinations in the first week
french officials vowing to speed up what some in france are calling a fiasco prime minister johnson said the lockdown could extend beyond february if the virus isn't under control british health experts are also worried about a south african strain that's even more mutated than the uk variant. and the more the virus mutates the more it's potentially resistant to the current vaccines lester >> one more concern tonight. richard engel, thank you. also breaking this evening, new york becoming the latest state to announce a case of that more contagious strain from the uk, as much of the country braces for another holiday surge on top of an already disastrous situation with more here's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: the current crisis in california is the kind of holiday surge the rest of the nation is now bracing for. in just one month, hospitalizations and icu occupancy ha doubled. in los angeles, ambulances are waiting up to eight hours to offload patients.
>> i have already had two patients die in the last three days. >> reporter: at one hospital in northern california 44 employees became infected with the virus, 1 losing their life overnight officials investigating if an air-powered inflatable costume worn by an employee may have been the source of the outbreak the national guard now activated to transport bodies ahead of what nurses like anna reece fear will be the deadliest surge. >> walking into work and thinking about all the americans who are traveling. >> reporter: in the last three days nearly 3.5 million americans took to the sky. it comes after scenes like these over new year's and now more confrontational protests from those who refuse to wear masks. nationwide more than 352,000 americans have lost their lives to covid. georgia the 10th state to lose at least 10,000 residents in massachusetts, where field hospital admissions are
outpacing discharges, more than 40 covid cases have been tied to a christmas service outside boston in new york, in the last month, hospitalizations are up a staggering 96%. no region is safe. >> every day is extremely stressful. i have nurses that -- we break down in tears. >> reporter: the new year bringing new challenges and perhaps another deadly holiday surge. with many testing sites up and running again at full capacity the fda is warning again of false negative tests underscoring the need to isolate if you traveled lester >> miguel almaguer tonight, thanks. let's turn now to that stunning phone call president trump pushing for georgia's secretary of state to overturn his election defeat there it's created a new firestorm on the eve of critical senate elections. here's kristen welker. >> reporter: tonight last-minute campaigning with just one day until georgia's key senate
runoff >> we need you to vote, georgia. >> reporter: including president-elect biden taking aim at president trump. >> i don't know why he still wants the job. he doesn't want to do the work. >> reporter: it comes after the presiden can be heard on a call pushing georgia' republican election officials to overturn his loss in the state. nbc news obtained a recording of that stunning 62-minute conversation where the president urges those officials to find votes for him. biden narrowly won georgia by 11,779. >> i just want to find 11,780 votes which is 1 more than we have because we won the state. >> reporter: later saying to the republican secretary of state brad raffensperger -- >> and there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated. >> reporter: the president repeatedly asserting false claims of widespread fraud. >> there are many infractions and the
bottom line is many, many times the 11,779 margin that they said we lost by >> reporter: raffensperger pushing back >> well, mr. president, the challenge you have is the data you have is wrong. >> reporter: today raffensperger said h did not feel the president pressured him but republican senator david perdue who's locked in a razor-tight race in tomorrow's runoff slamming raffenssperger >> i'm still shocked that a member of the republican party would tape a sitting president and leak that that's disgusting in my view. >> reporter: late today raffensperge insisting he did not release the audi in an interview with nbc's blayne alexander. >> i don't know how it got released but at the end of the day what he said was not factually correct. i want to make sur the people understand the facts. >> reporter: the president will campaign in georgia tonight as some of his allies tell nbc news they are worried that phone call could depress republican turnout and even harm america's democracy. lester >> all right kristen welker at the white house this evening, thanks.
tonight some house democrats are asking the fbi to investigate the president's call to that georgia official the question is, did it break the law pete williams has been reporting on this. pete, what do we know? >> reporter: lester, most legal experts say it would be very hard to bring a federal or state criminal case. federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully attemp to deprive the residents of a state of a fair election key word knowingly a prosecutor would have to prove that the president knew that he lost the election and that might be difficult since he seems to think he won. a georgia state law makes it a crime to importune, that is to urge someone to commit election fraud, and there's no knowing requirement. the local prosecutor in georgia would nee more than the phone call, possibly including testimony from others in the white house, and tha might be hard to get, lester. >> all right pete williams this evening, thanks. on wednesday dozens of republicans in congress plan to challenge the election results during the electoral college count. a ritual usually free
of dissent but certainly not this year kasie hunt on a party divided. >> reporter: as president trump refuses to accept the results of the 2020 election, his republican party splintering in two. >> i plan to object to certain contested electors on january 6. >> reporter: with dozens of his allies in the house planning to object to the electoral college count on wednesday senator josh holley said he'll sign on forcing an up or down vote on whether president-elect joe biden won. a dozen more republican senators say they'll vote to object unless there's a commission to study the results. >> we ought to have a fair inquiry, a fair audit into the results. >> reporter: establishment republicans ar warning objecting is a political an moral disaster mitch mcconnell calling it a vote of conscience and the most consequential vote i have ever cast. mitt romney, the republican presidential nominee in 2012, said it dangerously threatens the republic liz cheney the number three house republican writing in a
blistering 21-page memo to her colleagues sunday that objectin violates republican core beliefs and would set an exceptionally dangerous precedent. president trump quickly attacking republicans wh don't support the effort labeling them the surrender caucus. >> if members of congress take up false claims of voter fraud and try to use those to overturn an election they do not like they will be on the wrong side of history. >> reporter: the objections could stretch a count that usually takes a half hour into an hour long marathon at the capitol though i won't change the outcome. lester >> kasie, thank you very much. and then there's this an unprecedented warning from all ten living former defense secretaries calling on the military to stay out of election disputes and carry out the transition fully, cooperatively and transparently. here's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: clearly alarmed by president trump's actions the former pentagon leaders from both parties writing in "the washington post" efforts to involve the
u.s. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. former secretary william cohen. >> so just want to make sure that the military understands its role is not to abide by illegal unethical, unpatriotic orders from the president of the united states. sad to have to say that. >> reporter: the idea for the statement originated with former defense secretar dick cheney who as vice president presided over the party quickly certifying barack obama's electoral college victory. president trump ousted his defense secretary mark esper for protesting proposals to use the military in lafayette park last june the president also purged the top ranks of other pentago officials. and last week president-elect biden called out the pentagon he says for obstructing the transition. >> we just aren't getting all the information we need. for the -- from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. >> reporter: no response from th
pentagon but secretary cohen said they are also warning against any unwarranted action in hot spots around the world. lester >> andrea mitchell, thanks the uk blocked efforts to extradite wikileaks founder julian assange to the u.s. to face espionage charges and tonigh in a nbc news exclusive assange' fiancee speaks out to keir simmon about his battle and life in hiding. >> reporter: dragged from seven years of asylum in a london embassy in 2019 -- today his supporters celebrated as a british judge effectively rule julian assange suffered enough and could take his own life in a u.s. jail. a disappointed doj vowing to appeal his fiancee determined to fight on. >> i ask you all to shout louder, lobb harder until he is free >> reporter: speaking to nbc news, before the stunning outcome, in an exclusive interview -- >> it is a frontal attack on our right to know, on holding
governments accountable. >> reporter: the extradition centered around julian assange and wikileak exposing american war secrets including this video of an apache helicopter killing civilians in iran. the u.s. accused him of helping intelligence analyst chelsea manning hack computers which they claim put lives at risk his family telling nbc news he's close to broken what are your worse fears? >> that he just collapses under the strain >> well, it is very hard for him he is isolated most of the time >> reporter: last year they say he hardly saw his children. >> i tell them that he is a hero and that he is special >> reporter: tonight julian assange could be with his children within days. on wednesday his defense will argue for bail while the u.s. appeals. lester >> all right keir simmons, thank you. in just 60 seconds, what's causing gas prices to jump and how you can save plus the best diets for 2021
back now with gas prices on the rise in the u.s. vicky nguyen on what's causing the spike and how you can still save. >> reporter: for the first time since the pandemic hit, driver across the country are seeing a bump in prices at the pump >> well, what can you do it's not really the time to be taking public transportation if you don't have to. >> i do deliveries i'm a delivery driver so kind of stuck. >> reporter: analysts say the price hikes are driven by covid-19 developments crude oil costing more thanks to confidence in the vaccine commuters considering a return to the office and travelers looking to fly again >> we are at about a national average of $2.25 a gallon up from $2.11 a few weeks ago. so it's been a pretty abrupt increas and we could see another 5 to 15-cent increase over the next couple of weeks. >> reporter: but even with higher gas prices, americans are paying about 35 cents less than we did last year still families are looking to save.
about a million people have signed up for the gas buddy pay card a free program that gives users up to 25 cents off a gallon at stations across the country. you can also save at grocery chains that offer gas discounts. think walmart plus, safeway, kroger or wholesale clubs like costco, bjs and sam's club lester >> all right vicky, thanks for the tips up next, get a healthy start to 2021. the top diets just out.
into 2021 and if your new year's resolution is to shed a few pounds the new list of the best diets can give you a healthy start. here's jo ling kent. >> reporter: it's that time of year when millions of americans set goals for a healthier lifestyle and in this pandemic the top ranked diets may be more accessible than ever. leading the list, th popular mediterranean diet for the fourth year in a year followed be the flexitarian diet, the low-sodium dash diet and weigh watchers experts say the eating plans rank highly because they're relatively simple. incorporating fruits and veggies and whole grains and they're driven by what you can eat versus maybe what you shouldn't which is helpful in these really stressful times. that's why popular diets like whole 30 and keto plummeted in the rankings because they can be harder to follow how much has covid-19 changed the way that we are dieting right now? >> everybody has been through the wringer this past year there is no doubt about it if we enjoy it more and if we're
delighted with what we're eating we'll be more successful. >> reporter: with 50 million people facing food insecurity the top diets are more compatible with tight budgets. >> because they're primarily focused on legumes, the grains, rice, pasta. those are low pric point items. >> reporter: a healthy start without breaking the bank jo ling kent, nbc news, los angeles. up next, we speak to the surfer who made a dramatic rescue that's "inspiring america.
finally the surfer who was the right guy at the right time on the beach. gadi schwartz with "inspiring america." >> reporter: when the swirls are heavy on hawaii's north shore even wading out into the water can turn in a flash. this video shot by pro surfer mikey wrigh captures a woman dragged out by a powerful undertow. >> dragged out. >> reporter: you hea mikey quickly get rid of the drink in hand and then he breaks into a full sprint moments later he is battling churning currents >> i got her in my arms i told her, i said hey, you are going to be okay. we're going to get in and be safe. >> reporter: his sister pro surfer tyler wright helping from shore it looked like your sister was right there reading the water and telling you exactly where to go. >> kind of directing from the beach trying to get us out of the danger zone. she warned us that there was a wave that was coming. >> i know my brother he'll protect the woman with his own body. >> reporter: in the
end the close call summed up perfectly by the mullet sporting surf hero. his instagram caption, accurate and simple, hold my beer gadi schwartz, nbc news >> you got to love that that's "nightly news" for this monday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. ♪ everybody needs a little time away ♪ ♪ i heard her say
♪ from each other ♪ even lovers need a holiday ♪ far away from each other ♪ hold me now ♪ it's hard for me to say i'm sorry ♪ ♪ i just want you to stay ♪ hold me now ♪ i really want to tell you i'm sorry ♪ ♪ i could never let you go ♪ after all that we've been through ♪ ♪ i will make it up to you ♪ i promise to
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