tv CBS Evening News With Norah O Donnell CBS December 23, 2020 3:12am-3:42am PST
>> o'donnell: his warning tonight for those responsible. fauci's turn: the nation's top infectious disease doctor rolls up his sleeves. >> i feel extreme confidence in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine. >> o'donnell: plus, why who gets the vaccine next can make a difference in flattening the curve. americans out of work: tonight, the story of middle-class families hurting, relying on food banks and not getting a check from the u.s. government. jailed for violating quarantine: an american college student is sentenced to two months behind bars in the cayman islands. what her parents are asking the president to do. holiday storm: millions brace for snow, rain, and possibly tornadoes. and the black ice that caused this tractor trailer to go up in flames in new york. and our "season of giving": world-renowned chef jose andres feeding hungry americans and providing a lifeline to small businesses. >> this is the "cbs evening news" with norah o'donnell, reporting from the nation's capital. capital. >> o'don >> o'donnell: good evening, and
thank you for joining us. we are going to begin tonight with usually blunt words from president-elect joe biden, who said our darkest days in the battle against covid are ahead of us, not behind us. his warning comes as americans is expected to top three million total deaths by the end of 2020, now that is a 15% increase since last year, and it's because of the pandemic. according to the c.d.c., that makes 2020 the deadliest year in u.s. history. today, top health officials in this country said we should assume the more new infectious covid-19 strain ravaging the united kingdom is already here in the u.s. this was the scene in the u.k. today as delivery trucks jammed the roads at border closures response to the outbreak there. we have learned that moderna and pfizer's partner, biontech, are testing to see if their vaccines are effective against this new strain. in the past few days, u.s. airports have been crowded with more travelers than we have seen since march, raising new fears
that the virus will spread further during the holidays. and as we come on the air tonight, more than 322,000 lives have been lost to covid. there's also a lot of new reporting tonight for you and your family, and our team is following it all. cbs' mola lenghi is going to lead us off from newark airport in new jersey. good evening, mola. >> reporter: good evening, norah. more than 80 million americans are expected to travel between tomorrow and january 3. as you can see, they've already gotten started-- that is, despite the c.d.c.'s recommendations. add to that, that new strain that's believed to be significantly more contagious, and hospitals across the country are bracing for impact. tonight, growing concern that the variant strain of covid, locking down locking down much of the united kingdom, has now reached the u.s. >> when you have this amount of spread within a place like the u.k., that you really need to assume that it's here already. >> reporter: the lockdown stranding travelers, leaving rows of trucks stretching as far as the eye can see and then farther.
france now saying it will resume essential travel and transit for european union citizens to ease the gridlock. while the new strain is believed to be up to 70% more infectious, it's unclear if it might require the vaccine to be modified. >> it is possible. and we should be ready for that but a bit down the road that it may happen. but i'm not worried the corona vaccines we have will become ineffective. >> reporter: pfizer and moderna are testing their vaccines against the new strain. what is worrisome: how bleak things have gotten inside u.s. hospitals, especially in california. this is a covid unit just north of los angeles. >> it's getting worse, and it's exhausting. >> reporter: dr. brad spellberg is chief medical officer at l.a. county u.s.c. medical center. what is the worst-case scenario here? >> our fear is, we end up looking like new york did in april, or what spain and italy went through, that when you are
just systematically completely overwhelmed and there is nothing you can do. >> reporter: there are no i.c.u. beds left at this orange county hospital... >> it's been exponentially increasing since thanksgiving. >> reporter: ...sparking new concerns about a christmas surge nationwide. those warnings so far largely ignored as airports remain packed. a coroner in louisiana now confirming that the passenger on this united airlines flight, seen on this t.m.z. video, died from covid. one of the passengers giving him c.p.r. reportedly now testing positive. in september, the u.s. never averaged more than 50,000 daily cases. california just reported over 60,000 in a single day. the state also setting records for hospitalizations and deaths. relief can't come soon enough for those newly infected, those hospitalized... >> one, two... >> reporter: ...or those on the front lines. how do you go on? >> it's our job. we continue to come every day, walking towards the danger. we're willing to do the hard work.
we're willing to go into the rooms and care for these critically ill patients. please, just help us stop the spread. portant to point out that itberg says it's important to point out that it's common for viruses to mutate and to spread more during the cold winter months. that was expected. still, it could create an unsustainable situation in hospitals over the next several weeks, which is why new york governor andrew cuomo tonight is calling on all new york hospitals to begin testing for that new strain, norah. >> o'donnell: all right, mola lenghi, thank you. president-elect biden is blasting president trump for not holding russia accountable for the widespread cyber attack on u.s. computer systems. he is urging u.s. citizens to keep you want battle against covid saying "it's time to steel our spine" for the weeks ahead. here's cbs' nikole killion. >> reporter: president-elect joe biden with a blunt message to the american people today: tens of thousands more lives will be lost in the months to
come, even with the vaccine. >> our darkest days in the battle against covid are ahead of us, not behind us. >> reporter: with more than 2,500 americans currently dying each day, president trump again had no public events or comment on the pandemic, only focusing on what he called the rigged election. mr. biden suggested additional travel restrictions may be warranted as a new, more contagious strain emerges in the u.k. >> one of the things i'm waiting to get a response from my covid team is whether or not we should require testing before they get on an aircraft to fly home, number one. and number two, when they get home, should they quarantine? >> reporter: president trump has also said little about the enormous hack that penetrated several government agencies and fortune 500 companies. today, mr. biden called mr. trump out for failing to respond. >> this assault happened on donald trump's watch when he wasn't watching. it's still his responsibility as
president to defend american interests for the next four weeks. but rest assured that even he does not take it seriously, i will. >> reporter: the president-elect called on the administration to publicly announce who is responsible, noting that it looked like russia's doing. attorney general bill barr and secretary of state mike pompeo agree, but mr. trump said it may have been china and downplayed the seriousness of the hack. the president-elect was asked how he would respond. >> let us determine what the extent of the damage is, and i promise you there will be a response. >> reporter: meanwhile, vice president-elect kamala harris' california senate seat has been filled. on twitter, governor gavin newsom broke the news of his appointment of secretary of state alex padilla, who would be the first latino senator from the state. >> i'm honored, man. and i'm humbled. i can't tell you how many pancakes my dad flipped or eggs he scrambled trying to provide
for us. >> reporter: cbs news has learned mr. biden is nominating connecticut schools' commissioner miguel cardona as his new education secretary. cardona, who taught public school earlier in his career, will be tasked with getting kids back in the classroom within biden's first 100 days. norah. >> o'donnell: all right, nikole killion, thank you. tonight, states are deciding who should get the next wave of covid vaccines, sparking the debate over which groups should receive priority. for example, should it be corrections officers or teachers? cbs' adriana diaz continues our series, "vaccinating america." >> reporter: it's week two with more than 600,000 vaccines administered, including to dr. anthony fauci today. ( applause ) the c.d.c. recommends the next group should be those 75 and older, and frontline essential workers. but that's 49 million people, and so far just under five million doses have been delivered.
do you feel like you're almost in competition with other essential workers? >> yes, for sure. >> reporter: sylvia tanguma heads the teachers' union in mcallen, texas. she eats in her car to not remove her mask at school. monday, texas announced its next group will be those 65 and older or at high risk, not teachers as a whole. what would you say to the governor if you had a chance to talk to him? >> he needs to consider how many teachers we have and how badly we are needed. >> reporter: after studying new york's surge, the c.d.c. found that corrections officers are most exposed. that's why anthony mcgee of chicago thinks they should get priority. >> they have to pass out medicine. they have to pass out food. there is no way for our members not to the have direct contact with inmates. >> reporter: infectious disease specialist dr. aileen marty said
the order of vaccinations must be both ethical and strategic. >> you vaccinate the right group of people, you are going to flatten the curve faster. >> reporter: but the c.d.c. says even those next in line will be waiting at least a month. adriana diaz, cbs news, chicago. >> o'donnell: and tonight, we have a remarkable story about an 18-year-old college student from georgia fighting to get out of jail in the cayman islands for breaking covid isolation rules. she and her boyfriend were locked up, and her family is now pleading for help from the president. cbs' meg oliver has late developments in the case. >> reporter: today, 18-year-old skylar mack and her boyfriend had their lengthy four-month prison sentences for violating the caymen island's covid restrictions cut in half. the ordeal began november 27 when mack, a premed student from georgia, flew to the british caribbean territory for her boyfriend vanjae ramgeet's jet ski competition. she was supposed to wear a monitoring bracelet and quarantine for 14 days. >> she took multiple covid tests
when she arrived and throughout this period of time, and every single one of them has been negative. >> reporter: but two days in, she removed the tracking device and went to watch her boyfriend compete. they both pleaded guilty to violating the quarantine rules. initially, they were ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay $3,100 in fines, but the prosecutor appealed that sentence and a judge increased it to four months in jail. during sentencing the judge called their actions "as flagrant a breach as could be imagined. it was borne of selfishness and arrogance." her family is now hoping the u.s. government steps in. >> everybody's in limbo and, you know, trying to figure out what do we do? no one really wants to do christmas without skylar, so i'm not sure what we'll do. >> reporter: the family sent a letter directly to the white house asking president trump to intervene. the state department tells cbs news they are aware of the
situation. for now, the reduced sentence stands, but, according to the cayman islands, anyone who violates their covid restrictions faces up to two years in prison. norah. >> o'donnell: harsh sentence. meg oliver, thank you. well, tonight "feed america" says there's a 60% increase over last year in requests for food assistance. and it's not just lower income americans who need help because the first round of stimulus checks were based on last year's tax returns. a middle-class family who lost a job this year is also feeling the impact. here's cbs' mark strassmann. >> reporter: worry kept jose cruz company on this morning drive. >> reporter: that seven-month- old, valentina. >> reporter: her dad, a 52-year- old unemployed chef, picked up donated food, enough to stuff this van.
it will feed families in crisis, including his. >> when i go to the bed, sometimes i cry myself. you know, i say, "god, help me, please." >> reporter: cruz fell hard and fast in march after losing his job. he made good money cooking at the mayflower hotel in washington, d.c.-- $92,000 last year. now, he volunteers full-time at "so what else," a food bank. the siege of this pandemic has eaten into america's middle class. >> what is your name? >> reporter: in prosperous montgomery county, maryland, this charity serves 60,000 meals a week. >> the need increases every single day. >> here you go, man. >> reporter: executive director dave silbert says cruz stands out. >> the main thing i know about him and learned is that his work ethic is tremendous. is tremendous. >> reporter: six weeks ago, someone stole cruz's social security numbers. his unemployment checks stopped.
under the latest pandemic stimulus bill passed by congress, he'll likely get a few hundred dollars because of his infant daughter. that's it. cruz helped hand out more than 150 christmas toys. one of his only gifts for little valentina: donated diapers. mark strassmann, cbs news, atlanta. >> o'donnell: and tonight, a pre-christmas storm could force millions of americans to adjust their holiday travel plans. snow, rain, and heavy winds are forecast. let's get the details now from cbs' lonnie quinn. hey, there, lonnie. >> hey, norah. you know, if there's ever a time of year when you root for snow, it's around the christmas holiday. and tomorrow, in the morning, there's going to be snow out there, but this is not pleasant snow. it comes with big winds for the dakotas and minnesota-- blizzard winds, in fact. then, christmas eve, in the morning, this is important because atlanta could be dealing with some severe weather, and
there will be some flight delays. it all becomes rainy for the eastern seaboard. all those northeastern cities that picked up the snow last week, kind of setting the table for a white christmas, a lot of that is going to get washed away. it's primarily just raining, maybe a little snow on the backside when the cold air sets up. but, really, much more rain moves into the area. you're taking a look at temperatures dropping almost 20, even 30 degrees in some spots. 62, philadelphia, thursday, 6:00 p.m. you're in the 20s when you go back out around, say, chicago. all that cold air will overwhelm the east coast later on but too late to turn that rain to snow. norah, let's go back to you. >> o'donnell: oh, i'll miss the snow. lonnie quinn, thank you. well, there's still much more news ahead tonight on the "cbs evening news." the department of justice takes on walmart. did the retail giant help fuel the opioid crisis? and look at these flames. what caused a truck filled with hundreds of propane tanks flip on a busy highway? hway?
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>> o'donnell: all those months that congress argued over how to help americans in the pandemic, chef jose andres was serving those in need. cbs' chip reid continues our series, "season of giving." >> reporter: celebrity chef jose andres is a man on a mission to feed the world and to help struggling restaurants. that mission brings him here to breaking bread in baltimore. >>why we need to be having hunger lines in america? why do we need to see people with long lines of cars in person, when snowing or rain, waiting for a box of food? >> reporter: across the country, his non-profit world central
kitchen pays local restaurants to prepare hot meals for the hungry. since april, 175,000 meals have been served in baltimore, with $1 million going back to the community. you saw restaurants that were unable to have customers, and we saw hungry families. so, we thought, why don't we connect those two things? >> reporter: it's a partnership that helps the hungry and keeps the lights on. chef-owner kimberly ellis. would you still be in business? >> no. hands down, we would not. i don't want to get emotional, but it really saved us. >> reporter: andres and his volunteers served out 400 meals. hailey mitchell's mother depends on the food given away to feed her four children. >> so they can eat. >> reporter: and so can families in nearly 400 cities, thanks to andres and his food magic. >> people showing you that boots on the ground works, that programs work. gl that big tent communities, one meal at a time.
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♪ this is the "cbs overnight news." thanks for staying with us. the nba season got under way last night in brooklyn and in in los angeles, where lebron james and the lakers received their championship rings before their game against the clippers. last season ended barely two months ago. with playoff teams playing inside a bubble in the orlando area. that effort worked with no positive covid at the times for 96 days. with the coronavirus surging across the country, there's new questions how the season will pro seed. we are outside the fedex forum in memphis where the griswoldies opened their season against the
spurs. >> the arena you will see behind me will be like most others across the country as the son gets under way, without their courtside fans. it's one agreement that was made to help box out the spread of the coronavirus. we spoke with coaches and players and the commissioner of the nba who is nervous because so much is unknown about how the season will play out. >> it's over. this historic 2020 championship belongs to the los angeles lakers. >> this was two months ago, the los angeles lakers championship celebration capping the longest most unconventional year in league history. >> we had zero positive tests. we had zero positive tests for as long as we were here. >> but this season the nba is doing everything it can to replicate that success outside the bubble environment. >> have you ever now faced a test like this? >> not that i can think of. >> at the forefront of that effort is commission er adam
silver. >> when we went in the bubble, there were positive cases where guys were living their lives like other americans. and then, in the time between when we finished in the bubble, and when we restarted, when guys came in to training camps and we were very public about this, we had roughly 50, 5-0 positive cases guys coming n. >> to help prevent the spread of covid, the nba released this 158 page memo to its 30 teams. detailing stringent protocols for players, coaches and team employees. including twice daily testing and intense contact tracing. team violations can lead to fines. suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choice approximates and game forfeits. there's no criteria dealing with when the league may suspend play. 57 it even if it's a safer environment, if past is pro log and you are playing across the