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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  July 24, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm PDT

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tomorrow's temperatures similar to today. 90 in livermore, 80s in san jose. watching monsoon moisture and a chance of thundershowers toward the sierra tomorrow. >> thanks for joining us. nightly news with lester holt is next. >> we'll be back at 4:00. hope to see you then. bye. tonight from the tokyo olympics, after the first full day of competition the stands are empty but the competition is full throttle. the u.s. shut out of medals on day one, but the women's soccer team comes roaring back with a commanding win. now all eyes turno the pool and kie ledecky. american swimmers off to a strong start. athletes also competing against covid. a beach volleyball match canceled after a player tests positive. winners putting medals on themselves for the first time. back in the u.s., will you need a third shot? the new report that the biden
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administration is considering a booster shot for at-risk americans. as more cities implement mask mandates. what is behind a rise in breakthrough cases? 20% of l.a.'s covid cases now among the vance nated. what you need to know. a western mega fire exploding in size. firefighters forced to drive-thru flames, smoke making it all the way to the east coast. fast-moving floods in arizona. stranded drivers rescued by air. unbreakable bonds. how olympic families are sending love and support to their a little heats thousands of miles away. this is nbc news with less administer holt, recording tonight from tokyo. from tokyo, where at long last olympic competition is in full swing. the first medals being awarded. team usa anxious to get on the medal count board. all the athletes quickly adjusting to competing in front of empty seats and without the reassuring cheers from family.
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though in some instances, usa athletes taking up the cheering role for fellow americans. as expected, covid rewriting the competition schedule as another positive test in the athlete ranks forces an event cancelation. let's begin our coverage from japan with tom llamas. >> reporter: tonight, some of the biggest stars in tokyo showing what it takes to be the best in the world. the u.s. women's soccer team beating new zealand, bouncing back after that tough loss to sweden. >> they've arrived at tokyo 2020, albeit three days late. >> reporter: in tennis, novak djokovic on his quest of a golden slam, a grand slam title plus a gold medal, crushing his bolivian competition in the extreme heat. in water polo, the u.s. women's team blowing out host japan 25-4. >> i think all the emotions we've been feeling leading up to
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this moment, it's kinet it off t and be, hey, that's the first game, now let's go. >> reporter: covid lingering at these games. the first match of beach volleyball canceled. the czech team forfeiting after one of their athletes tested positive for covid. >> we're off and under way, the first gold medal in tokyo goes to china. >> china winning the first gold medal of these games in the 10-meter air rifle. the new award protocol on full display. ioc president thomas bach presenting yong qien with the gold medal on a tray, putting on the medal herself. first lady jill biden seeing team usa beat france in three-on-three basketball, a new event at this olympics. >> i'm really excited for this game, aren't you? as you can see, i'm all decked out for it. >> reporter: cheering on team usa softball at a virtual watch party. gymnastics also kicking off. the u.s. men advancing to the team final, thrilled with their
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performance. >> 10 out of 10. i smiled the entire time. >> reporter: while simone biles is explaining why the women's team was absent from the opening ceremony. on instagram showing how the team dressed for the event and even did a walk outside of their hotel, but mentioned covid concerns, adding, quote, the amount of standing is crazy, and with competition coming up, it wouldn't be smart. the women's gymnastics team clearly taking no chances in their quest for gold. >> tom, team usa still on the hunt for that first medal, right? >> reporter: yeah, lester, believe it or not. this is somewhat historical. the last time it took team usa this long to win its first medal was 1972, the summer games in munich. but no worries, the women's gymnastics team hits the mat tomorrow. lester? >> all right, tom llamas, thank you. mike tirico, how are the athletes handling this new normal? >> i think they're getting used to it, because they got used to
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it in training. when the olympics were delayed for a year. i think we're seeing also a lot of the olympians being very careful in their interactions in the olympic village compared to other olympics. >> what are we looking at tonight? >> we're going to see swimming. a lot of atmosphere in there with teammates creating the atmosphere. a lot of the other usa swimmers will be rooting the u.s. on in the pool. probably early chances for a medal. and skateboarding makes its olympic debut. it will be fun to see a new generation come to the olympic stage. >> you have got a with night action thanks for stopping by. >> my pleasure, lester. >> primetime coverage of the tokyo olympics begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on nbc. back in the u.s., there is increasing concern over how to end the surge in covid cases fueling new conversations inside the white house about whether some will need a vaccine booster shot. here's kathy park. >> reporter: tonight, a sharp shift on booster shots from the whit "the new york times" reporting senior h
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and older. >> as long as is world is not fully vaccinated, this virus will continue to replicate and mutate, and it increases the chances that we will need a regular vaccine series. >> reporter: this week, independent advisers to the cdc urged that all regulators move quickly on a decision for a booster, saying people with weakened immune systems have a higher chance of breakthrough infections. while the pfizer and moderna vaccines await full fda approval, the cdc may be working around that. the chief medical officer on the covid-19 vaccine task force saying they're looking at ways to provide early access to a booster shot. the administration previously saying there wasn't enough evidence for boosters. nationwide, the numbers keep climbing. the seven-day average for new infections is up more than 50% from last week. in hard-hit missouri, cases shot up 70% in just two weeks. researchers say the delta variant is fueling the surge.
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>> the uk variant was the most contagious virus we'd ever seen. it took over the entire state in three months. the delta variant did that in three weeks. >> reporter: some hospitals in the state are treating unvaccinated covid patients for a second time. >> patients who had covid last year get infected this year. some of them are in the hospital. >> reporter: to slow the spread, st. louis will reimpose an indoor mask mandate starting monday. the nfl also doubling down with fallout from the announcement that teams could face for fit for covid outbreaks among unvaccinated players. a coach for the minnesota vikings and the new england patriots reportedly out for reasons related to the new guidelines. with training camp about to get under way, the nfl's medical director says 80% of the players have received at least one dose of the vaccine. lester? >> kathy park, thank you.
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there are a growing number of so-called breakthrough cases, cases where people who are fully vaccinated are now testing positive. some getting sick. here's vaughn hillyard with why it's happening and what you should know. >> reporter: the headlines unexpected. seven vaccinated stanford students positive for covid. six vaccinated texas democrats traveling together, positive. hundreds of cape cod residents and vacationers, vaccinated but positive. >> these are headlines that make us stop and think, where is this going? >> reporter: public health officials agree, if you're fully vaccinated, you almost certainly won't be hospitalized or die from covid. >> the numbers of people who get infected with serious illness or who are dying from covid-19 after being vaccinated is extremely >> reporter: l.a. county alone, 20% of confirmed cases were breakthrough cases. but less than .001% of those
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vaccinated have been hospitalized. but why are we seeing so many cases now? >> delta has turned our streets into a nascar track. to levels 1,000 times what the early virus would have gotten to in their 8 wares and their blood. >> reporter: just how sick do those who are vaccinated get? >> my legs were feeling weak, and i was dizzy and totally fatigued at this point. >> reporter: fullerton is fully vaccinated. she was sick over a week. how many vaccinated people are getting sick? >> we're not doing enough testing to fully appreciate how many people who have been vaccinated have asymptomatic infection. >> reporter: the cdc has not changed its guidance for those vaccinated, but experts are making their own risk assessments. >> even if you're vaccinated, i would really advise you continue wearing a mask indoors. >> if one were to get infected, having been vaccinated, one is very likely to have mild disease.
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more like a standard flu or a bad cold. so i'm not living in fear of the delta variant. >> reporter: evolving advice as the virus evolves. vaughn hillyard, nbc news. new covid restrictions across parts of europe and in australia ignited mass protests today. in france crows clashed with police over the mandate requiring vaccinations to access venues. thousands marched for freedom amid a resurgence of the virus there. there have been protests in japan over the olympics. many believe with covid rising, it's no time to hold such a large event. we sent our keir simmons across the country to gauge japanese sentiment now that the games have begun. >> reporter: tonight, japan's opening ceremony celebrating its rich history and culture widely praised, despite the lack of
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spectators and protesters outside. after 14 days in the country, when our movements were restricted, we left tokyo this week traveling across japan to see how people here really feel. meiji castle is one of the oldest in the nation. modern japan's political battle ises now over covid and the olympics. do you think the olympics should go ahead? >> translator: we have no choice. >> reporter: we stopped in hiroshima where we met american sheresse encarnacion. >> you were in california until seven months ago, now here, how does it compare? >> there's more rules and regulations. the people adhere to them, are more willing to adhere to them. >> reporter: this city knows what it means to overcome adversity. this building the only one left standing when the atom bomb hit in 1945. today coronavirus has become part of life. >> there are limitations or
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restrictions in place, but i wouldn't say that they're a lot. so i would say it's a balance between normal life and kind of staying indoors, staying home as well. >> i'll ask you the big question. do you think the olympics should be going ahead? >> well -- >> that's a difficult one. >> that's a very controversial question. >> reporter: finally, we reach japan's beautiful ancient capital, kyoto. here, as in tokyo, there are covid restrictions. and this internationally famous destination for tourists has been suffering financially without the support of overseas visitors. normally these ancient streets would be packed with people from around the world. covid cases have been rising in japan, but enthusiasm for the olympics is increasing, too. which story dominates may determine the olympics' success. >> keir, i have been protests, i've seen people aching to get a pick talk of those rings behind
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me. did you get a sense of excitement as you traveled? >> lester, folks across japan seem uncertain what to think. that said, when the opening ceremony was happening, the streets seemed to clear, perhaps people at home watching with no small amount of pride. and this may change the mood, lester. tonight, japan has won its first medal. >> keir simmons, good to have you here, thanks so much. coming up, the growing megafires in the american west and the firefighters driving and the firefighters driving thugh them. ro ♪ ♪ when technology is easier to use... ♪ barriers don't stand a chance. ♪ that's why we'll stop at nothing to deliver our technology as-a-service. ♪ wayfair has everything you need to make your home
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a dangerous megafire in california is getting bigger. it's now one of dozens of wildfires destroying land and upending lives in the region. its impact even being felt thousands of miles away.venegas >> reporter: firefighters escaping deadly flames from the tamarac fire in south lake tahoe, california, just in time. a giant firewhirl caught on camera. just one of the 86 wildfires across the west destroying homes, damaging critical infrastructure, and forcing thousands to evacuate. governor gavin newsom declaring a state of emergency in four counties with flames crossing into nevada and the dixie fire near paradise, california, exploding into a megafire, consuming more than 100,000 acres. >> scary. i've never been through anything like this. >> reporter: in neighboring
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oregon, things are worse. the bootleg fire consuming over 400,000 acres. >> there's still several thousand people that are threatened by the fire. >> this is all drier than usual? >> sure, everything's drier than usual. >> we're seeing on the dixie fire, it's primarily a fuel-driven fire. >> reporter: the smoke smothering the entire country. nasa releasing this image friday. fumes again reaching the east coast. thousands of firefighters working around the clock, saving lives remains a priority. >> grabbed as much as we could and got out. didn't have much time. but we got out alive, so that's what matters. >> reporter: out-of-control wildfires now the norm as global warming continues to pose a threat. quad venegas, nbc west. staying in the west, monsoons dumping rain on parts of arizona, creating dangerous conditions. here you see a chopper crew
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rescuing stranded drivers outside phoenix after they got stuck driving through high water. and there is historic and deadly flooding in india. a desperate search for survivors is under way in the western part of the country following storms that triggered massive mudslides. the floods washed out homes and mill sides, killing at least 130. 90,000 others were evacuated. still ahead for us, swimming's biggest olympic star, katie ledecky, on the eve of her first race. the major milestone she just reached outside of the pool. reached outside of the pool. i'd call my grandfather as a result of the research that i've started to do on ancestry. having ancestry to fill in the gaps with documents, with photographs, connecting in real time means that we're having conversations that are richer. i have now a closer relationship with my grandfather. i can't think of a better gift to give to my daughter and the generations that come after her. bring your family history to life like never before.
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she's already won six olympic medals. now katie ledecky is just hours from beginning her quest for gold in japan after graduating college just a month ago. here again is mike tirico. >> katie ledecky! >> reporter: five-time olympic gold medalist katie ledecky is a lot of things. daughter. piano player. poolside goofball. and now a leader. what is the old, grizzled 24-year-old veteran tell a kid who says, what's it like to get on the blocks, jump in the water, and swim in the olympics? >> i think we have to remind them that it's just another swim meet. >> reporter: that quiet confidence is a big part of what makes katie, katie. even as a baby unfazed, playing
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peek-a-boo with michael jordan. >> i never dreamed i'd make to it the olympics, let alone three. i try to lean into that a as much as i can. and just enjoy it. >> reporter: another big thing that makes katie, katie -- stanford university. she graduated this year. and while she may have missed the ceremony, she celebrated, where else, poolside during the u.s. olympic trials. one thing about being a stanford student is you can hide a little bit, you can be just one of many. my favorite katie ledecky picture is you with the saxophone, playing with the band, during a football game. did you actually play? >> so i'd never played the saxophone before that week. but i had always thought it would be fun to join the band for a week. so they said, katie, just as long as you're trying, you're going to be good. but i wanted to go all-in on it. >> reporter: all-in a katie hallmark. that willingness to learn helped her cope during lockdown.
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>> you took a class on the pandemic? >> i did, first quarter, that was super interesting. just to learn and hear from experts about what was going on. school got me through it. family, teammates, coaches. the first three months, i was training in a backyard pool with a super-nice family that lets emanuel and me come to the pool every day and swim. >> reporter: now the most versatile female swimmer in the world is back where she belongs, in olympic water. you really love the olympic experience, don't you? >> i do. it doesn't get old. just being able to represent your country on the biggest scale, the biggest stage, see people from all walks of life. we all come together and put on a show. >> reporter: and it's showtime in tokyo. mike tirico, nbc news, palo alto. >> ledecky's first race comes tomorrow just after 7:00 a.m. eastern time. when we come back here in a moment, sending love from a wod away.rl
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breztri may increase your risk of thrush, pneumonia, and osteoporosis. call your doctor if worsened breathing, chest pain, mouth or tongue swelling... problems urinating, vision changes, or eye pain occur. for real protection, ask your doctor about breztri. for some of the athletes at the olympics, there is a proud parent or figure in their life who worked and sacrificed to help get them there. while families can't attend these games in person, they're finding ways to send love and support from afar. they are the hugs seen around the world. years of shared hard work and dedication paying off in that powerful embrace between an
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athlete and their parent. but this year's covid restrictions mean team usa's loved ones can't be with them. but it certainly hasn't stopped the cheers from back home. families are gathering at watch parties. >> i'm just excited to be here with my family and watch with es really fun. >> reporter: they're watching in awe. >> i'm so proud of her. of course i wish i was in tokyo. but just great -- i'm so happy i'm able to see her. it hit me right here. >> reporter: and they're healing heartbreak. mary tucker lost her bid for a medal in shooting on saturday. >> i would love to be able to comfort her or give advice or any of that. that's been the hardest thing for me. >> reporter: through it all, they're letting their athletes know they're still there for every step of the way. is it difficult to find the same passion and to find some connection with her when she's playing?
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>> you know, when she's playing, i just -- connected. even though she's thousands of miles away. hopefully she's feeling my energy like i'm feeling her energy. >> the parents of undefeated u.s. women's softball player kelsey stewart are used to cheering from the bleachers. now watching from a conference room in orlando. what's it like not being able to hug your child after something as important as this? >> that's not a fair question. because i'm an emotional mom anyway. but it's rough. but, you know, in another -- a little less than a week, hopefully, they'll be bringing that gold home, and we can give her a big hug then. >> you're saving the hugs? >> exactly. >> reporter: families sending hugs felt halfway around the world. and we'll still have some of those moments. olympic organizers plan to be linking up athletes with their families after some big wins over video.
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that's "nightly news" for this saturday. we'll see you back here tomorrow night. i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night, everyone. hi everyone. the news at 4:00 starts right now. happy saturday! thank you for joining us on this special olympics edition of nbc
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bay area news. i'm janelle wang. >> i'm terry mcsweeny. we take a look at the olympic flame. just after 8:00 a.m. sunday morning. in a few hours skateboarding will make the debut at the olympic games. skateboarding. we show us the athletes will show off the skills they developed in skate parks around the world, including many here in california. >> reporter: here we are along the tokyo bay. it's beautiful! i can't get over how beautiful the city is. today we're talking about skateboarding. it's the new sport in the olympics. one of the cool things about skateboarding, you can do it anywhere. in fact, mikey panned out quick. the stairs here, it's a possible skate ramp. they get crazy. among the rock stars of the sport is a guy from dayton. >> reporter: nija houston is a big deal. the 26-year-old is the new face of skateboarding. it's not just his face, it's


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