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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 17, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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lines for testing. the rockettes canceling their christmas spectacular. the nfl postponing games. nationwide cases, hospitalizations, deaths, all rising the white house's stark warning saying the unvaccinated face a winter of severe illness and death. and news from pfizer, how it could set back the time line for vaccinating young children. also tonight, former police officer kim potter breaking down in tears, testifying in her own defense, telling the jury she mistook her gun for her taser when she fatality shot daunte wright. why she said she's sorry on the stand. the toughest sentence yesterday on the capitol riot how long the man who attacked police with a fire extinguish er will spend behind bars. schools on edge nationwide over threats of violence on tiktok what authorities are saying and how officials are taking action. tiger woods returning to competitive golf less than 10 months after his crash with his son by his side.
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and the brave four-year-old girl traveling halfway across the world her life saving journey to the u.s. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening the last thing any of us wants is to revisit 2020 that was one rough road but the comparisons are inescapable tonight in pockets of this country covid sidelining more and more people as it did last december when vaccinations were just beginning. new york city with over 10,000 new cases reported today in several major cities, there are long lines for testing. facing outbreaks of their own, businesses in some places are closing their doors. major sporting events postponed. classrooms closed. and the unvaccinated being warned in no uncertain terms these are dangerous days ahead, especially as the highly contagious omicron variant multiplies tonight urgent calls for the vaccinated to get booster shots. so far some 58 million
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boosters administered to just over a quarter of those fully vaccinated our team is in place to cover it all starting with miguel almaguer >> reporter: well before our nation has even reached what's predicted to be the depths of this year's deadly winter surge, businesses, venues and schools are shuttering in pockets of the country. today new york state recording its single day record for new infections during the pandemic though hospitalizations are down by more than half still, a week before christmas, the rockettes are canceling the rest of this season's show today the nfl and nhl postponing some games after a cluster of outbreaks. parts of broadways are dark and as restaurants and classrooms clear out, long lines for covid testing are back, with our past resembling our future the 91 million americans who are not inoculated are accelerating the pandemic
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>> for the unvaccinated, you're looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm. >> reporter: vaccinations will protect most from serious illness. but today the covid task force emphasized the critical need for boosters as omicron evades some layers of protection, scientists are worried about what will evolve next. >> we are concerned that we are one or two mutations away from not having effective vaccines or monoclonal antibody therapies. >> reporter: with many hospitals already on the brink, ohio's governor is sending in the national guard to help the pandemic also taking a toll on nurses with a new study showing 1 in 5 plan to quit the profession >> we're tired the hospitals are stretched. resilience is low. please get vaccinated. >> i think we're looking at a potential wave of cases that's so large that we still, you know, overwhelm our
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hospitals. >> so there is some danger ahead. >> i think there is. >> reporter: bracing for a winter wave expected to rival last year's, every day 1,300 americans lose their lives. all of these rooms are full >> all of these rooms are full of intubated covid patients. >> reporter: to see the grim reality, look no further than farmington, new mexico two weeks ago we saw their icus were full today local funeral homes tell us they're now running out of room to hold the dead. >> miguel, there are a lot of headlines tonight. pfizer holding a delay for vaccine trials for children under five. what can you tell us about that. >> reporter: well, that's right, lester pfizer says they're testing a third dose of the vaccine in an ongoing trial of kids under five after the company found two doses didn't generate a strong enough immune response pfizer likely won't have enough data to submit to the fda for approval until the first half of 2022 now. lester >> miguel almaguer, thank you. all of this causing anxiety for
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families across the country as they try to make final holiday plans just eight days now before christmas but at this point, few seem to be changing course stephanie gosk has that part of the story. >> reporter: at airports, travelers are taking to the skies. some worried about the latest surge. >> i'm very concerned about it because the flights are full inside the lobby is full all the planes are full. >> reporter: while others are unphased. >> i already got vaccinated i'm not really worried about it. >> reporter: so far there is no sign that the rising cases have impacted people's decision to travel aaa estimates airlines are seeing nearly three times the number of passengers compared to last year, and it projects 100 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holidays, driving or flying with all these people on the move, health officials are banging a familiar drum. >> get vaccinated. if you are eligible for a boost, get boosted. >> reporter: for those who are, here's some advice
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are small gatherings okay >> you can get together with your relatives over the holidays adding rapid tests will make that safer. >> reporter: what about indoor dining at restaurants? that's a bit murky >> everything we will be doing involving individual's risk tolerance. some people may decide certain exposures just aren't worth it. >> reporter: and what should unvaccinated people do? >> people will have to use masks and tests and other measures. >> reporter: most importantly, she says, reconsider getting vaccinated these people are waiting in line for a covid test they have probably been waiting for a while. the other option is buying a test that you can take at home at a pharmacy but scoop them up if you can find them because they are going fast lester >> yes, stephanie. looks really familiar. thank you. in minneapolis, wrenching testimony today by the former police officer who shot and killed daunte wright at her manslaughter trial kimberly potter described the moments leading up to the shooting ron allen is there. >> we're trying to keep him from driving away
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it just -- it just went chaotic. >> reporter: former officer kimberly potter testifying in her own defense about the traffic stop that led to her shooting and killing donte wright. >> i remember yelling taser, taser, taser and nothing happened and then he told me, i shot him. >> reporter: potter says she thought her gun was her taser. and that while police stopped wright for an illegal air freshener and expired license plates, they tried to arrest him when a records check revealed an outstanding arrest warrant for a case involving a weapon potter testified she feared for the safety of another officer on the passenger side, partially inside the car. wright drove off and dragged him. >> he had a look of fear on his face it's nothing i have seen before. >> reporter: defense attorneys trying to convince the jury potter made an innocent mistake and that even so, the use of deadly force was justified.
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>> i'm so sorry. >> reporter: under cross-examination, prosecutors highlighted potter's 26 years of experience and training the differences between a gun and a taser, trying to convince the jury she was reckless and had no reason to use either weapon. >> you didn't plan to use deadly force that day, did you >> no. >> you didn't want to use deadly force, did you? >> objection, irrelevant whether she planned to or wanted to - >> the objection is overruled. >> no. no >> because you knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted in that circumstance. >> i didn't want to hurt anybody. >> and, ron, now that both sides have rested, when would the jury get this case >> monday we expect closing arguments, lester, and for the jury to get the case later that day potter faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of a serious charge, which is first degree manslaughter. lester >> ron allen for us tonight, thank you. this evening, the
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longest sentence yet for one of the rioters of the u.s. capitol attack robert palmer was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison he pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers with a dangerous weapon for throwing a long pole, a wooden plank and a fire extinguisher twice at police. a lot of families were on edge today and some school districts closed after talk of anonymous threats of school shootings circulated on the social media site tiktok gatti schwartz has that story. >> reporter: for schools across the country, a day of heightened alert or canceled classes after posts about fake threats and unsubstantiated rumors of a december 17th attack on schools went viral on tiktok. local law enforcement agencies and the fbi saying the threats did not seem credible and tiktok saying it had found no content promoting violence in schools on friday but was finding videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe. at least some districts today canceling classes in more than a dozen of states citing an
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abundance of caution. and multiple safety concerns do you think this is a double-edge sword? you want to be safe when you shut down schools, but on the other hand, you may be giving more credence to something that wasn't true to begin with >> i do. i worry that we're giving attention to bad behavior that maybe wasn't a threat to begin with. >> reporter: in michigan some districts not taking chances after a student opened fire on his classmates, killing four and injuring others last month. in florida this morning, police arrested a teen. though it is not yet known if there is any connection to the online threats earlier this year. some students shared an online challenge to destroy school property experts worry about a larger trend emerging. >> what worries me about this particular situation is that we have schools shutting down across the united states today, right? so unfortunately what we see, then, is that there is power in
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spreading misinformation. >> reporter: viral posts on social media spiraling into mass fear and real world disruption gatti schwartz, nbc news. in just 60 seconds, rebuilding after a destructive tornado. how one town's new approach could be a model for america. and the remarkable comeback tiger woods back on course
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one week after that devastating tornado outbreak, the death toll rose again today in kentucky. and as hard-hit communities begin to recover, we take you to one kansas town that rebuilt in an innovative way after a monster tornado. here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: today two new deaths from the devastating storms were confirmed in kentucky, but now only one person is reported missing. >> the level of destruction, we think now is in the billions across kentucky. >> reporter: claire protected her two young grandchildren in a bathtub as the tornado roared
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through. >> i felt the shaking of the house next thing i knew the tub had lifted and it was out of my hands. i couldn't hold on. >> incredibly, they survived as places like mayfield begin their cleanup efforts, support is pouring in from across the country. including one city that knows what lies ahead all too well in 2007, an ef-5 tornado shredded 95% of greensburg, kansas. including the home of peter and haley marks. >> probably for the next six months, we were kind of just operating in shock. >> reporter: dennis mckinney is a former state representative who live on the air described losing his home. >> the roof started going off, so i ran down the stairs. >> now 14 years later. >> the tornado is a great leveller it doesn't matter what your social status is. >> reporter: with greensburg a blank slate, they decided to build back green. all of the city's electricity now comes from this wind farm. >> we made the commitment that 100%
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of the power which we provided our residents would come from renewable sources. >> reporter: this rural town now as an energy efficient school, a medical center and city hall it also became the first city in the u.s. to use all led street lights literally a road to recovery. >> if we can tell all those people that were hit by this tornado one thing, it would be that we're all americans. when times are tough, we stick together. you are not alone. >> reporter: perhaps a silver lining after so much loss. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. less than a year after his near fatal suv crash tiger woods made his return to competitive golf today and he couldn't have asked for a better partner, his son, charlie. we get more from sam brock. >> reporter: for all the magic and twists and turns that sports can bring. >> a scene we thought we may never see again. tiger woods back in a tournament >> reporter: tiger woods playing competitive golf, 10 months removed from a nearly fatal car
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accident that fractured his leg in multiple places. >> if you had asked me after those three months in the bed would i be here, i would have give you a different answer but there are no days off. you know, we worked every day. >> reporter: his miraculous return wasn't alone woods playing with his sensational 12-year-old son charlie in the buildup to a weekend exhibition pairing champions and family members. though charlie looking every bit the champion as they wrap up 18 holes today, it marks the first time that tiger has played in public since these two teamed up here last year the duo almost perfectly in sync during driving range warmups, tiger says he's still lacking some signature traits on his swing. >> it's just not as powerful. i just don't have the speed. >> reporter: tiger says he doesn't have the endurance to walk a full course or play on the tour level right now. but he did rip a 320 yard drive today like the old tiger. lester
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>> all right sam brock, thank you up next searing images from china at the start of the pandemic what happened to the journalist who filmed them
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a desperate situation in china tonight for a journalist on a hunger strike chinese authorities jailing her after she tried to warn the world about what was happening there when the pandemic began her colleague now speaking out for the first time on television to our keir simmons. >> reporter: they are haunting images china
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did not want the world to see the front line of covid-19 in wuhan early 2020 patients in hospital hallways in the dark, a crematorium active day and night. the video journalist who risked her life to upload dozens of these films to youtube is zhang zhan. >> i would say i'm a journalist for citizens >> reporter: this is a never before broadcast excerpt from one of her last known interviews >> my life purpose is to see everybody in this country enjoys freedom. >> reporter: her courage stunning she was speaking in may 2020 >> at the moment, it's okay they didn't arrest me. >> reporter: days after she said those words, she went missing, arrested. china charged her with picking quarrels and provoking trouble. she had even documented confrontations with chinese security
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tonight she is in the second year of a hunger strike in a chinese prison her family fears she will die this winter >> she was on the verge of death >> reporter: when her mom saw her by video call. >> that's right. she was so weak. >> reporter: jane wang helps run the free zhang zhan campaign. this is her first television interview is she prepared to die in prison? >> sadly, i think so i think so i think of her every day. >> reporter: zhang zhan put her safety on the line, even filming close to the wuhan institute of virology where some people think the virus originated. >> zhang zhan is paying the price with her life. >> reporter: and zhang zhan is not alone. reporters without borders calls china's the world's largest prison for journalists.
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it says journalists are still detained or missing for reporting in the early days of coronavirus. and eight doctors, including li wenliang, who later died of the virus, was arrested in january of last year were spreading so-called false rumors after they raised the alarm about the new virus. china is a country under the rule of law china's embassy in london told us the litigation rights of zhang zhan were fully protected. later the statement asserts, china's achievements in advancing journalism are widely recognized. but zhang zhan has told friends she is willing to die for freedom of speech. >> we are talking about a female human rights defender who took all the risk to go to the most dangerous place to find the truth >> reporter: and tonight the truth about the origins of covid is still illusive, with china facing fierce criticism from the u.s. and others were not allowing a
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transparent investigation into what happened in wuhan. lester >> all right keir simmons, thank you for that. up next, a life-saving connection for children with cancer
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finally, the brave little girl who traveled far to the u.s. for a life-saving treatment. catie beck with tonight's chasing the cure >> reporter: four-year-old kavungu is far from her village where she lives without
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electricity or running water. but in january doctors back home found the toddler would not live without cancer treatment medications unavailable in her country. >> we've had trouble, supplies for chemotherapy, and she would get a dose some weeks. and other weeks she wouldn't. >> reporter: she suffers from bilateral wilms tumor, cancer of both kidneys her doctor connected with dr. andrew davidoff, a doctor at st. jude's children research hospital in memphis, tennessee then a cross-continental journey to remove her tumors began. >> the one on the right was size and shape of a small football, and on the left it was more of a baseball size. >> reporter: her case depicts a desperate situation worldwide. low-income countries without tools to fight pediatric cancer. >> in the united states, the overall cure for kids with cancer is above 80%. in the underresourced countries, it's probably closer to 20%
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overall survival >> reporter: st. jude and the world health organization this week launching a program to make childhood cancer medications widely available to developing countries around the world an uninterrupted supply at no cost to those in the pilot program. st. jude committing $200 million over six years. to save kavungu, two doctors from worlds apart stood at her . . . jude advanced now making a strong recovery. >> this is one of those landmarks. if we could do this, i think we could do a lot more. >> reporter: new hope behind a new mission catie beck, nbc news, memphis. and that's "nightly news. thank you for watching, all. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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i'm raj mathai. next on nbc bay area news tonight, we have exclusive details in the case of the los gatos mom throwing those drunken sex parties. we speak to two parents who say their kids were at those parties. >> they didn't believe me, and they didn't believe my daughter. it makes me sick because they could have stopped it. >> why they feel their early warnings were not taken seriously. also is the waterfront ballpark really happening for the oakland a's? we'll be join by the team's president. what does today's announcement mean and are the a's still negotiating with las vegas? and look at this. a slice of hollywood in san francisco. keanu reeves for the big premiere in the castro tomorrow night. good evening.

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