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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  November 26, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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the fears triggering the worst day of the year on wall street. the dow plunging 900 points president biden spending thanksgiving on nantucket his new message to all americans. and the question: is the highly new mutated variant more transmissible and can it evade the vaccines? dr. fauci is here. shots fired at a mall filled with holiday shoppers the images of shoppers fleeing. what police just revealed black friday is back crowds returning to stores but finding rising prices and limited supplies our exclusive behind the scenes at best buy where some big holiday shopping changes are in store. red flag warnings in the west. tens of thousands without power due to the powerful santa ana winds. we're on the front lines. the president of ukraine accusing russia of plotting a coup. how the kremlin is responding celebrating
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stephen sondheim. tributes pouring in for the man behind some of broadway's biggest smashes. and shake the holiday season into high gear with the return of the famed rockettes. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening we're going to tell you what we know and what we don't know tonight as a worrisome new covid variant rears its head labeled with the greek letter omicron and classified by the w.h.o. as a variant of concern. today the u.s. announcing restrictions on travel to here from south africa where the variant is spreading experts troubled by the large number of mutations. while there are early indications it could be more transmissible than previous variants, it is not known if it is more deadly and if it can weaken the effectiveness of vaccines uncertainty rattling financial markets today as the u.s. averages 90,000 new covid infections a day. in a moment, some of my conversation with dr. fauci about the omicron variant.
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but first, gabe gutierrez with the latest >> reporter: tonight concern over a new highly transmissible covid variant first identified in south africa is rippling across the globe the white house imposing new restrictions on air travel from eight countries starting on monday a world health organization panel has just named the strain omicron and classified it as a variant of concern. >> this variant has a large number of mutations. and some of these mutations have some worrying characteristics. >> reporter: president biden saying he was briefed by his covid response team this morning. >> we don't know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern, seems to spread rapidly. >> reporter: today the w.h.o. convened an emergency meeting but cautioned against an overreaction still from asia to europe to the u.s., stocks tumbled the dow plunging more than 900 points. >> you'll be waiting for test return results. >> reporter: passengers on this flight from south africa were told the new restrictions before arriving in the
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netherlands. >> people are getting more and more anxious. they want to get tested they want to go home and how long is this going to take? we don't know. >> reporter: today belgium was the first european nation to confirm a case around the world, a growing list of countries are now limiting travel from southern africa. though, more study is needed experts warn that it could be more resistant to vaccines. >> south african epidemiologists think that this is more transmissible than the delta variant. >> reporter: what is the likelihood that this variant is already in the u.s.? >> it's already here unfortunately we now know from previous variants that by the time we pick it up in africas and in the european union, it is already likely. >> reporter: all this comes as the u.s. just crossed another sobering milestone in the pandemic more than 780,000 american lives lost. there is also a surge in new cases nationwide, an average of more than 90,000 new infections each day. >> we are now bearing brunt of delayed wave. delta has really knocked us for a loop.
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>> reporter: but on this thanksgiving weekend, air travel is back to almost pre-pandemic levels. the tsa screening more than 2.3 million passengers on wednesday. >> this is our first like plane travel trip using an airline since the pandemic hit. >> so, gabe, let's go back to this variant right now. i think a lot of us want to know if those shots we got are going to work. what are the manufacturers of the shots saying >> pfizer, moderna and j&j say they're already testing their vaccines against this variant. pfizer is expecting results back within two weeks or so but says that its vaccine may require an adjustment if this variant keeps spreading, lester. >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. earlier i spoke to dr. anthony fauci about the new variant and i began by asking what is so concerning about it. >> well, it has a constellation of mutations, lester, around that spike protein, which would be strongly indicative that this will be highly transmissible and might, in fact, escape some of the
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immune parameters such as monoclonal antibodies and the convalescent serum plasma when people recover and likely even some protection from the antibodies that are induced by vaccination. so we're taking it very, very seriously it's spreading really quite rapidly in south africa and then we're seeing cases popping up in countries around particularly when there has been travel from south africa or southern african countries to other places like israel and places like that and for that reason, the president decided prudently to put the travel restriction on not only to south africa but to seven other countries that border south africa. >> is what you are seeing right now the kind that keeps you up at night >> you don't want to frighten the american public, but when something occurs that you need to take seriously, you take it seriously and you do whatever you can to
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mitigate against that. i mean, i'm saying this absolutely clearly that if ever there was a reason for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated and for those who have been vaccinated when your time comes up to go and get a booster shot because even though there may be some diminution, and we don't know that in the protection against the vaccine. certainly to be vaccinated and boosted is always better than not to be. so that's the first thing. the second thing is what the president has decided to do. he's taking it very seriously, and that's the reason for the restrictions from travel from certain countries. >> you talk about the booster shots, the renewed importance of booster shots. how much edge do they give you >> the booster shots give you a very, very important edge if you look at the level of these protective antibodies following the peak response after two doses and compare the level following the peak response after the third booster dose
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of an mrna, it's multiple, multiple times higher after the third shot of an mrna. >> how long after this weekend would you expect to see the impact in terms of infection numbers of this holiday >> well, whenever you have a congregate situation where people travel, it is usually measured in a few weeks, two to three weeks or more. when you are talking about infection, it is about two weeks or so. when you are talking about if anybody gets severe disease, it is always lagging indicator of hospitalization and death. we hope that people when they travel they're careful so that we don't see a major spike. >> i don't want to put the words in your mouth, but are we at a dangerous turn right now in this pandemic with this new variant? >> well, we have to be paying close attention and take it very seriously. i don't really want to go so far as to say we're at a dangerous turn we don't have enough
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information, lester, to make that determination. but what we can do is do everything we can to make sure we err on the side of safety, and that's the reason why you are seeing the travel restriction and the renewed emphasis on getting people vaccinated and boostered. >> some of my conversation earlier with dr. fauci. there is breaking news out of durham, north carolina where a shooting at one of the biggest shopping days of the year sent shoppers running for cover. police say three people were shot and injured, including a ten-year-old child at the streets at south point. another three people were injured in the evacuation one person has been detained and police expect several arrests. those terrifying moments coming just as black friday got into full swing after the pandemic led many to stay home last year. holiday shopping expected to shatter records this year, despite rising inflation and supply problems as online shopping booms, big box retailers like best buy are changing with the times jo ling kent has an exclusive look behind
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the scenes >> reporter: with black friday's stampedes slowing to a trickle this season, shoppers are spending big online. >> most of my shopping will probably be online. >> reporter: consumers shelled out $5.1 billion online on thanksgiving day, the same as last year. another $9.6 billion expected online today. with the pandemic forever altering how consumers make their purchases, best buy is transforming how they utilize their massive stores we got an exclusive look inside. with the surge in online shopping, best buy renovated the store, reducing the sales floor side by more than half to make room for this new warehouse to try to meet customer demand. >> i'd say it's a game changer. you never know what's here. >> reporter: best buy executive vice president damien harmon now says the same number of customers now shop online as in stores, so the retailer is focussing on same day and next day shipping from new warehouses like this one. >> it does move things faster because i'm in the neighborhood it doesn't have to
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come from 120 miles away. >> reporter: in each fulfillment center, dozens of people pick and pack behind the scenes part of a growing workforce that's largely invisible to the consumer but essential to rapid delivery how much faster can you get orders to customers now? >> i'd say ten times faster because we're only focussed on taking care of the customer in my hand we have multiple customers in my hand and getting that product out the back door as quickly as possible. >> reporter: but with major bottlenecks in the supply chain, it is still on the shopper to figure out how to score this season's hottest gifts like a playstation 5 or xbox. will there be enough gaming consoles for everyone who wants one for the holidays >> i think that's going to be difficult no matter how it plays out because everybody wants them. >> reporter: a race to shop and deliver before time runs out. >> and if what you want is sold out, are you pretty much out of luck before the new year >> you know, some companies say you could be out of one, especially if the item you want is stuck on a container ship or missing a part that's why it's really
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important to check that estimated delivery date when you are ordering online. otherwise, you might be getting your present in january, lester. >> okay. jo ling kent, thank you. in just 60 seconds, the stunning accusation from ukraine's president. is russia plotting a coup and red flag warnings in the west. we're on the front lines with the special ops of fire fighting
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all right. we're back now with the president of ukraine's stunning claims that russia is planing a coup attempt next month it puts the u.s. in the middle of a tense standoff that could have major implications keir simmons has more. >> reporter: tonight with russian troops massed on the ukrainian border, president biden is responding to claims a coup is planned against ukraine's leader. >> i am concerned. look, we support ukraine's territorial integrity. >> reporter: the kremlin denying involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the ukrainian president. we received information that a coup d'état will take place in our country
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on december 1st. ukraine's president zelenski told a news conference today he claimed, without evidence, to have intelligence and recordings of the plots involving russians and implicating ukrainian billionaire oligarch who also denies involvement. nbc news cannot verify the claims it's five years since president putin was accused of trying to meddle in u.s. politics ahead of the 2016 election. two years earlier, russian forces took crimea from ukraine. but putin has, in turn, accused the west of interfering in ukrainian affairs. and speaking to me in june, president putin accusing ukraine of deepening military cooperation with the u.s. the european union said you had more than 100,000 troops on the ukrainian border >> ukraine itself constantly and i think is still doing that. part of them have been air lifted from the u.s. continent
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directly to our borders. >> reporter: today's coup claim, while unconfirmed, escalates the tension over ukraine. the u.s. warning if russia takes military action, all options are on the table lester >> keir simmons tonight. thank you. here at home millions in the u.s. are under red flag warnings with the powerful santa ana winds. tonight a rare look on the front lines with the special ops of fire fighting. our emilie ikeda embedding with u.s. forest service hot shots. >> reporter: flames threatening homes and holiday celebrations with power cut to tens of thousands, southern california facing a red flag warning, high winds and dry conditions amid a record breaking wild fire season, we followed the so-called special forces of fire fighting to the front lines. for the u.s. forest service hot shots team, this is an every day battle you can see in the weathered jackets, the group is in high demand, underscored by
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staffing shortages >> you know you're going to be rolling back-to-back. >> reporter: this captain is a 12-year veteran. leading the hot shots from the monstrous dixie fire to take tahoe's fire in a blaze infiltrating the treasured road these deep treacherous roads typical terrain for a hot shot crew. with their specialized training, they can go to areas other firefighters can't hauling 50 pounds of gear, crews are scaling the iconic sierra nevadas to help direct helicopters to hidden wild fire hot spots and eliminating hazards along the way. three firefighters injured in three days working the windy fire, a grim reminder for hot shot rookies like adrian of what is at stake. >> who can be next, you know you never know. >> reporter: for years, starting pay for most firefighters have been roughly $13,
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below an entry-level position at target fuelling a prickled staffing shortage within the u.s. forest service. do you feel like people ever leave to other agencies because they can find higher pay? >> yes, definitely i can't sit here and say no. >> reporter: during the peak of fire season, the u.s. forest service had more than 300 unfilled fire fighting positions in california and two-thirds of hot shot crews were fully staffed. while some federal firefighters will see a boost in pay from president biden's infrastructure bill, long-time staffing shortages cut deep as wild fires intensify 13 of california's 20 most destructive fires on record happening since 2017 the team stretched so thin the agency closed all of california's national forests for more than two weeks this summer. >> when you see these wild fires and you look up on the hill, there is probably some hot shots up there working really hard. >> reporter: with so much on the line, a tireless grid gets them up to do it again tomorrow
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emilie ikeda, nbc news, sequoia national forest up next, paying tribute to an icon of broadway who paved the way for some of the most famous musicals
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sad news tonight from the world of broadway legendary composure and lyricist stephen sondheim has died at the age of 91. he's being remembered as the driving force behind some of broadway's most beloved musicals anne thompson with a look back at his historic career.
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>> reporter: stephen sondheim's most famous song was an unexpected hit. ♪ isn't it rich. >> reporter: judy collins, then frank sinatra. ♪ send in the clowns. >> reporter: putting the words in music of broadway's master into the pop fermament, filling theaters about songs of the complex relationship between people ♪ i want you so ♪ it's like i'm losing my mind. >> reporter: and unusual subjects a murderous barber >> reporter: stephen sondheim reinvented the american musical. >> reporter: stephen sondheim's name permanently on lights in broadway. a talent first futured
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by mentor, surrogate father and lyricist of oklahoma and south pacific who urged a reluctant stephen sondheim, then just 25, to write the words to leonard bernstein's music "the west side story. ♪ >> i want to tell stories and write songs and make people laugh, cry and have a good time. >> reporter: piece by piece, stephen sondheim put it together and left us a lifetime of art. ♪ i'm still here. >> reporter: anne thompson, nbc news new york. when we come back after a short break, the return of the radio city rockettes
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finally, after last year's performances were canceled, the radio city rockettes are back on stage to kick off the christmas season joe fryer takes us behind the curtain >> reporter: the radio city rockettes have been dancing for nearly a century yet, every year is still filled with firsts including first-time dancers. how does it feel to say that you are a rockette >> incredibly. truly incredible. >> reporter: she made her debut when they opened earlier this month. >> as soon as the curtain closed after our final finale wave, i just burst into tears. my emotions were
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through the roof. >> reporter: it was just as emotional for those who have doing this for years, especially after last year's show was canceled now the rockettes are kicking again. the show featuring new choreography and new music. >> new york is back and i think we're back in action and we're back doing what we love and we're back spreading christmas joy. ♪ >> reporter: joy that extends to the family of julia griffin, also a rockettes rookie growing up, she and her grandpa would watch the famous kickoff on tv. >> he said the best women in the world are the radio city rockettes whenever they were on. >> reporter: his words clearly rubbed off for years, she auditioned for the rockettes and this year her dream finally came true. >> it was a beautifully win for the family as a whole. unfortunately, my grandpa passed away earlier this year and something i daydreamed of telling him was i got the job, i got the offer.
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>> reporter: her grandpa died after battling covid you know he's watching you, right >> i do. and when i got the call, i looked up and i was like, grandpa, it happened. i got it yeah. >> reporter: she says she still feels his presence on stage. a reminder of those eye high kicks to show with sky high heart. joe fryer nbc news. great story. that's "nightly news" for this friday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night ♪
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♪ i see trees of green ♪ ♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) ♪ so i think to myself ♪ ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪
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coming up on nbc bay area news tonight, a new covid variant detected. should we be concerned? we're asking one of our covid experts. and then the biggest drop we have seen all year. we explain what happened on wall street today. and we're breaking down what it means for your money. people have to feel safe. >> even san francisco as's chief is patrolling union square. we're shown what else is being done to make shoppers feel safe during this string of smash and grabs. good evening, everyone. this is nbc bay area news tonight. and i'm jessica aguirre. okay. worries over a winter covid surge growing, not just here but across the globe. right now concern is being fueled by a new variant

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