tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 21, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
omicron is the reason for concern, not panic, ahead of the holidays and his plea to the unvaccinated to get their shots as a patriotic duty. the president insisting no one predicted omicron would spread so fast. the surgeon general is here answering your questions also tonight, the president's hopes of reviving his nearly $2 trillion build back better plan, what he said today about joe manchin after the senator said he wouldn't vote for it. just in, the question the jury asked the judge in the kim potter trial on day two of deliberations. are they headed for a hung jury. winter storm threats for six states in the west, in the east, a system from florida to new england. we're tracking it all. tensions boiling over as holiday travel heats up. the airport brawl caught on camera. also the new warning about 5g networks and airplanes, what two aviation giants are calling for, and the new way to skip the
long tsa lines and who mailed a box of cash to students in need. the christmas mystery inspiring america. good evening more and more of us tonight know someone in our circle that tested positive for covid, the now dominant omicron variant infecting americans at eye watering speed tonight, president biden updating the administration's covid battle plan, promising millions of free at home covid testing kits to be mailed to us on demand. more testing sites and deploying military troops to aid hospitals. this evening, more cities, schools, and businesses are reimposing covid rules and protocols amid skyrocketing case numbers. the president imploring the unvaccinated to take the shot as a patriotic duty while throwing his full faith behind booster shots as the administration's preparedness for omicron comes
under sharp scrutiny in a few minutes, my interview with the u.s. surgeon general. let's begin with gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: with the omicron variant running rampant. >> we should all be concerned about omicron, but not panicked. >> reporter: president biden today with a direct message for the unvaccinated >> get vaccinated now. i promise you, it saves lives. i honest to god believe it is your patriotic duty. >> reporter: the president under pressure to do more for states with overburdened hospitals. and shortage of covid tests, announcing starting next month, his administration will distribute 500 million at home tests to any american that wants one by mail for free he is also deploying a thousand members of military to help understaffed hospitals, open new test sites >> we're taking more steps to make it easier to get tested. >> reporter: comes two weeks after white house press secretary jen psaki downplayed the need for more at home tests. >> why not make them free, have
them available everywhere. >> should we just send one to every american >> maybe. >> then what happens if every american has one test. how much does it cost and what happens after that. >> the president was pressed whether his administration was caught off guard. >> what's your message to americans who are trying to get tested now and are not able to get tested and wonder what took so long to ramp up testing. >> what took so long. >> i am hearing that from people trying to get tested before the holidays. >> what took long is it didn't take long at all what happened was that omicron virus spread even more rapidly than anyone thought. >> reporter: for those in massive test lines now, changes can't come soon enough some people got here before dawn, the line now stretches around the block they've been waiting three hours in freezing temperatures should it be this hard to get a test >> of course not of course not.
>> i understand that the government is trying to get as many people tested, trying to get ahead of this, but i probably got a cold waiting in the cold for three hours >> reporter: new york city announcing today it will pay people $100 to get their booster shot atlanta reinstating an indoor mask mandate, chicago imposing a vaccine requirement for indoor public places. >> there's no denying we are in a fifth wave of covid-19. >> reporter: overnight, the nhl paused its season until after christmas. broadway cancelled more shows. infections are generally more mild first known u.s. omicron death reported in harris county, texas. a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions who was unvaccinated more states are ramping up containment with more than 1300 americans dying each day massachusetts activating up to 500 national guard members >> there's no question the next few weeks will be enormously difficult for the health care community. >> reporter: in neighboring new hampshire, some hospitals are already full. >> sometimes we call 20 to 30
hospitals a day trying to find beds for patients. we have patients that sit in the emergency room for three or four days. >> gabe, it is not just covid tests in short supply. >> reporter: yes, lester here in new york and places like florida, we are hearing monoclonal antibody treatments are running low. this testing clinic behind me stopped seeing new patients minutes ago because they ran out of staff. >> gabe gutierrez, thank you let me bring in chief white house correspondent kristen welker kristen, it is not just the covid response, it is turning into a critical moment for president biden on a lot of levels. >> it is president biden faces two key tests. first on covid, his message, the u.s. is better prepared than march, 2020 when there were no vaccines he faces criticism for being unprepared on testing. he ran as the candidate that could turn the corner on covid.
cases and deaths are still surging and this is hitting close to home. sources tell me the white house is expecting more cases after a staffer tested positive. the president is still negative. then there's a second flash point, his signature $2 trillion social spending and climat bill that joe manchin derailed, but president biden insisted he could work with manchin to get something passed >> back on covid, i spoke with the u.s. surgeon general dr. vivek murthy if you come up from a test, get a positive result, what should you do, especially assume you don't have symptoms. what should you do >> that's an important question because people can transmit the virus, in some cases even if they don't have symptoms if you test positive, important thing to do is number one, you have to isolate for a period of time the cdc recommends ten days because you could spread it to someone else
something else to do, notify people you have been in contact with in the last 48 hours because they may be at risk. if they have symptoms, they should get tested as well. and they need to quarantine if they were in close contact. >> do you fear people take that as a license to go forward with their life knowing they're infected >> we hope it is a milder variant overall. but i want people to know it is not just about our health, it is about health of the people we love, people we interact with. if you feel mild symptoms, that's good, but we don't want you to pass the virus to somebody else that may be vulnerable >> we're seeing some cities take measures to protect their populations from this particular variant, but nothing in the way of lockdown. as a health professional, someone who is committed to protecting the health of the american people, would you recommend that we self lockdown, we begin to change our life-style and dial back on all fronts >> this is a time it makes sense
to be more vigilant about decisions we make, how we engage with the rest of the world we can do things that are most important. we can see family over the holidays, for example. but it requires us to be more vigilant about using tools to protect ourselves that include getting vaccinated and boosted, making sure you wear a mask in indoor spaces, using testing to make gatherings safer, try to gather in well ventilated spaces, whenever possible, including outdoors when feasible if we do these, we can reduce the risk that we will get sick or transmit infection to other people >> part of my conversation with dr. murthy earlier. weather concerns on both coasts tonight, we are watching in florida as a storm races up the east coast, will bring rain, snow, ice to parts of new england. up to four inches of snow is possible here in the west where i am tonight, a strong pacific storm will bring heavy rain, strong winds, extreme snowfall to parts of washington, oregon, and california through christmas winter alerts in nevada, idaho,
wyoming as well. tonight, aviation giants airbus and boeing are joining the nation's airlines, calling for the government to delay next month's rollout of 5g cell phone technology, warning it could interfere with critical cockpit technology worries potentially coming to a head on the heels of the holiday travel rush here's tom costello. >> reporter: from boeing and airbus, a rare call for the government and cell phone industry to postpone 5g cell phone rollout set to go live in two weeks. the biggest plane makers warn 5g interference could adversely effect the ability of aircraft to safely operate. the concern, 5g ground stations could interrupt the radial altimeter that provides precise altitude readings when landing in poor visibility they prohibited pilots from
using them in bad weather starting in january when close to 5g sites. 7,000 runways, 2500 airports, large and small, in potential interference zones the airline industry says that air worthiness directive could impact 345,000 flights, 32 million passengers, facing diversions, delays, cancellations. they want to limit 5g signals around airports as other countries have. >> other countries have carefully regulated 5g so it won't interfere with radial altimeters here it is the wild west they can put a tower wherever they want. >> reporter: tonight the cell phone industry says they operate safely without interference in nearly 40 countries around the world. there's no legitimate factual basis for delay in implementation meanwhile, if you're among the millions flying over the holidays, the tsa and united airlines are piloting lax fastlane in los angeles, allowing united passengers who don't have
precheck to reserve a 15 minute tsa screening window. >> you can still have expedited experience that's the benefit for customers. >> reporter: ideal for those that need extra time >> tom, speaking of the tsa, there was another violent passenger incident, this one in miami. i am told it got serious. >> reporter: that's right. police say a suspect tried to steal an airport golf cart. when police approached the suspect, they got into an altercation and another suspect jumped in. in all, the officer pulled his gun awaiting backup. the fight got out of control yet another extreme example of bad behavior in airplanes and airports >> leaves you shaking your head. tom costello, thank you. in 60 seconds, late-breaking news in the kim potter trial, and what to do if you or a loved one gets covid-19. the steps families should know about.
it is day two of deliberations in the trial of kim potter, the former minnesota police officer says she mistook her gun for a taser when she fatally shot donte wright in april. late today the jury asked questions what to do if they can't reach a verdict, raising the possibility of a hung jury the judge repeated her initial instructions and told them to continue working also tonight, there are new threats from russia against nato and america is responding as russia continues to mass a huge military force on the border with ukraine andrea mitchell with late details. >> reporter: tonight, new threats from vladimir putin surrounded by his generals, demanding nato withdraw troops from eastern europe. he says in case western colleagues continue their clearly aggressive line, we will take adequate military and technical measures in response he has the military muscle to back it up more than 100,000 troops and tanks and heavy equipment at the
ukraine border a build-up that's only increased in two weeks since putin and president biden met virtually. >> reporter: it says the president talked to president putin. the buildup is continuing. >> if russia continues with reckless and aggressive actions, we'll respond and we will respond strongly. >> reporter: the u.s. approved sale of javelin missiles to lithuania. near russia. officials are on high alert for tougher threat to counter, a russian cyber attack turning off the lights in ukraine as they did in 2015 and 2016. >> allows them to attack without doing a full scale military intervention in ukraine. it sounds like he is preparing for some kind of attack. cyber gives him the option of starting an attack without going to full scale war. that's a place where russia has great advantages.
>> a cyber attack would let russia cripple ukraine and make it harder for nato to respond with military force. tonight, the national security council confirms the u.s. is continuing to help ukraine shore up defenses. more on the alarming covid surge heading into the holidays with cases skyrocketing. we want to dig deeper on the question of what to do if you or a loved one tests positive gadi schwartz has what you need to know. >> reporter: just before the holidays, a new wave of early pandemic déjà vu. the cdc saying vaccinated, boosted or not, if you catch any variant of covid, the guidelines are still ten days of isolation. >> i'm in day six. seven. one of the two kind of lose track of covid isolation. >> reporter: she's a vaccinated, boosted health care worker that
caught covid in new york last week. >> the hardest part was making sure i wasn't getting my roommate sick. >> reporter: some local health departments are offering hotels or care packages for those that can't care for themselves. what if you live with family? what do you do to isolate to make sure others don't get it. >> if you have more than one bedroom, take one of those rooms temporarily. hopefully the room has a window, you can open and crack the glass a little bit. >> reporter: air circulation can be more important than sanitizing surfaces. washing hands is a must. hepa filters are great for shared spaces. wear an n95 if you're around people, deliveries should be left at the door sounds like you could live in cramped quarters and not give them covid. >> yes, you can definitely live even in a one bedroom apartment, not give your family covid with covid street smarts. >> reporter: a reminder that even when covid is close, we can still prevent its spread gadi schwartz, nbc news. up next, a massive part of the biden agenda stalls out, can a financial lifeline for millions of families be saved?
streamwood, illinois. also tonight, president biden's social spending plan in limbo, millions of american families are losing a critical financial lifeline with more, here's stephanie ruhle. >> reporter: we met her when the child tax credit was changed to a monthly check. >> if we get it every month, you can use it toward little things that are effecting us now. >> reporter: six months later says it helped her two daughters. >> that money made a difference on what we could get for our family. >> reporter: what did you spend the money on >> back to school clothes, hair cuts, shoes. >> reporter: the change in tax credit was part of march's pandemic relief bill families received $300 a month for every child under the age of six, $250 for those up to 17, phased out as families earn more. >> families in every state are using this child tax credit payment for food it is the most common use. >> reporter: the biden administration wants to extend
it for another year as part of the build back better act. not all are on board some republicans and even democratic senator joe manchin raising concerns about cost of the tax credit, putting the entire bill in jeopardy. >> i cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. >> reporter: president biden plans to continue negotiations with manchin >> we're going to work with anybody that's interested in taking steps to lower costs for the american people, whether on child care, elder care, health care >> reporter: the final checks have gone out to families. more than 61 million children benefitted last month alone, the tax credit kept 4 million from poverty. >> that to put in perspective is unprecedented levels of poverty reduction in the u.s. in general. >> reporter: unless there's an extension, the new year will bring new challenges for
finally tonight, a mysterious gift, almost $200,000 sent in a box to a college professor in harlem. kerry sander with "inspiring america. >> reporter: this physics professor is about solving mysteries of the universe. who sent him and city college of new york this box filled with cash is tonight a mystery unsolved you see this money, you're not sure how much it is. what are you thinking? >> i'm thinking wow. i've never seen this kind of money ever in my life. >> reporter: $180,000, the letter saying assuming you're a bit curious why i am doing this. the reason is straightforward. a bachelor and masters degree in physics resulted in an immensely rewarding career adding to the improbable story, the box with $90 in postage was mailed in late 2020, but because of
the pandemic sat unopened for ten months. >> somebody trusted the post office, the mailroom, somebody trusted anyone, the whole system that's another big part of the story. >> reporter: the fbi investigated agents say the money is legit. the name on the letter and address label, kyle paisley, but there's no city college graduate with that name is the name an anagram? >> it dawned on me, the person doesn't want to be found why should i do it >> reporter: a physics professor with new-found scholarship money and a mystery he chooses not to solve. kerry sanders, nbc news. that's it for us take care of yourself and each other. good night and thanks for watching.
i'm raj mathai. next on nbc bay area news tonight, we know omicron is here, but how concerned should we be about its spread? a uc berkeley doctor who predicts the bay area impact of covid tells us why these next few days are critical. also, a surge in covid cases is causing bars and restaurants to temporarily close. one bar owner tells us why he's making the move, even though no one on his staff tested positive. and saying no to the upcoming winter olympics. why one sport will be missing some of the best athletes from team usa. ♪ ♪ good evening. this is nbc bay area news tonight. i'm raj mathai. usually christmas week is pretty quiet. not this time aroun