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

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down but thousands still set to ring in 2022 in times square. the cdc's alarming new warning to avoid cruise ships even if you are vaccinated all passengers now asked to quarantine for five days after their trip. mass evacuations tens of thousands told to flee near denver as 110 miles an hour wind gusts fuel wild fires, now racing toward multiple towns >> it's just all burned it's all black. the holiday travel mess getting worse another round of flight cancellations now stretching into the new year tough talk president biden one-on-one with vladimir putin today what they discussed in that high-stakes phone call. shocking body camera footage police forced to shoot an endangered tiger at a florida zoo to save a worker's life. the new questions tonight about why he was anywhere near the animal in the first place. and lasting legacies we celebrate the lives
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lost this year the iconic figures who helped change the world. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening i'm peter alexander in tonight for lester just a day ahead of those festive new year's eve celebrations, a sobering reality check with covid cases raging across the country. the latest tally another all-time high. nearly 500,000 new infections in a single day. the eye popping case count causing major staffing shortages and more travel nightmares some cities are now canceling their new year's festivities but here in new york the mayor is allowing a scaled-back crowd in times square for the iconic ball drop still tonight, there is some promising news that omicron cases are less severe among the vaccinated, keeping hospitalizations down. and we're learning new details about the effectiveness of the vaccine in kids. we begin tonight with nbc's sam brock. >> reporter: tonight the u.s. is barrelling
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toward the new year's holiday under a tidal wave of new covid cases. shattering the daily record with nearly half a million infections wednesday or roughly double the previous high last winter the 1.9 million cases in a week mean three americans are now testing positive every single second. with new york city at the epicenter, notching 74,000 infections in 24 hours. >> we want to show the world that new york city is fighting our way through this it's really important to not give up in the face of this >> rehearsal today for the time square ball drop for new year's eve, still happening despite the new covid benchmark. the city's test positivity rate is almost 20% and deaths are nearing 100 per day for the first time in months. critical city infrastructure getting hit hard some subway lines are shutting down because so many transit workers are ill. and the fdny reporting 30% of ems workers are
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out sick, too. now the cruise industry getting hit again after recent outbreaks. the cdc today warning travelers to avoid cruise travel. regardless of vaccination status because even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk of getting and spreading covid. the cruise industry calling the warning perplexing, saying only a very slim minority of those onboard have tested positive. >> oh, i'm tired of it, man. it's getting super annoying. >> reporter: but there is no sign of a let down only relentless lines to get tested, with an ongoing shortage of covid tests nationwide from wisconsin -- >> i tried coming here yesterday, but the line was ridiculously long. >> reporter: to miami where lines stretch literally for miles. today florida also breaking its all-time record for daily positive cases >> what we have seen is an overwhelming spike in demand for tests. >> reporter: ron is
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the general manager of health testing in florida. >> yesterday we hit a record here with over 66,000 tests just here in miami-dade county alone. >> reporter: the biden administration under fire for not being prepared on testing, promising free at home kits to all americans starting at the beginning of january, but now saying they won't sign a contract with the test manufacturer until late next week meanwhile, the cdc says fewer hospitalizations suggest omicron is presenting as a milder disease than previous variants but the sheer scale of infection, forcing 48 states to call upon the national guard, including wisconsin and georgia. watching those boots on the ground roll in. >> we are going to see the number of cases in this country rise so dramatically, we will have a hard time keeping every day life operating. >> and sam joins us now. sam, we're also learning more tonight about the fda's next steps on boosters for children ages 12 to 15. >> reporter: yeah, peter. that's right a person with knowledge of the plan tells nbc news that pfizer booster could be approved by the fda in a matter of days.
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this, peter, as the cdc releases a number of new studies tonight about kids and the vaccine, including one of them showing it is extremely rare for the vaccine to lead to complications in younger children. peter? >> sam brock in miami, florida tonight. sam, thank you now to the state of emergency just declared in colorado tens of thousands suddenly ordered to evacuate their home to escape several dangerous wild fires there. crews outside denver right now battling fierce flames fueled by punishing winds some gusts topping 110 miles an hour. emilie ikeda has the very latest. >> evacuate your homes as soon as possible to go as far east as you can. >> reporter: tonight a life threatening situation near boulder, colorado where fires are forcing thousands of families to evacuate >> we saw a big plume of smoke over in that direction. >> reporter: flames reaching their doorsteps. people desperately trying to get to safety. >> we're evacuating, trying to get down to boulder, denver, maybe the mountains. just try to figure out something. god help us. >> reporter: on foot and by car, entire communities on the move to escape from the fast-moving
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flames. >> just traffic. so much traffic. that little town is just all trying to get out. >> reporter: one hospital already treating at least six burn victims. >> they are actively running from fire behind them. >> reporter: plumes of thick smoke darkening the sky. everywhere residents turn >> the fire's crossing right at the golf course and traffic is backed up in it. >> reporter: a possible cause for the three fires, downed power lines, according to local officials as whipping winds plague the area, strong enough to topple tractor trailers all aircrafts here grounded some gusts more than 110 miles an hour, making the fight for firefighters nearly impossible the battle worsens by that parks grounds in colorado. the area in an extreme drought with just 1.6 inches of rain since august snow forecasted to move in tomorrow but for too many, it could be too late as furious flames burn a path of disruption emilie ikeda, nbc news. >> the winds whipping up those winds are part of a major storm system already causing massive backups in the nation's airports tonight. and it comes as airlines are reeling from those covid sickouts reeling from another busy holiday weekend
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steve patterson is tracking it all. >> reporter: tonight the great cancellation of holiday air travel now on a collision course with the new year after four days in a row of more than a thousand cancellations, airlines are trimming down even more. >> got to the airport. got on a plane everything was fine. and then one of the pilots didn't show up. >> reporter: delta already announcing a cutback of two to three hundred flights a day through the new year's weekend alaska airlines thinning by 20%, strongly urging travelers with non-essential trips before january 2nd to rebook and jet blue canceling 1,280 flights from now until mid-january. >> we're going to continue to see staffing shortages at the airlines, which are the primary factor of these cancellations. so simply put, there is no clear end in sight. >> reporter: the chaos caused by surging omicron cases
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impacting airlines staff and bands of relentless severe weather lashing the country from coast to coast. 11 million in the south at risk of hail, powerful winds and possible tornados by tomorrow like what may have touched down in alabama after it tore through the region. >> we've got a lot of structure damage we've got windows blown out. we've got roofs that are in the middle of the street. >> reporter: and a massive winter storm is making its way east, expected to dump several inches of snow from denver to detroit, right in time for the holiday weekend. a guarantee that this year's travel nightmare is also next year's steve patterson, nbc news and we'll be right back in 60 seconds with what president biden told vladimir putin during their critical phone call today.
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we are back now with that high-stakes phone call tonight between president biden and vladimir putin. the conversation the u.s. says the russian president asked for with fears growing about a russian
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invasion of ukraine. here's richard engel. >> reporter: vladimir putin had to wait until nearly midnight moscow time for the call with president biden. it seems when you ask for the call, you don't set the time the call lasting less than an hour the white house saying president biden urged putin to de-escalate tensions with ukraine. earlier the kremlin said putin's goal was to hammer out an agenda ahead of key meetings with european allies, nato members and russia in less than two weeks those talks are expected to focus on the crisis in ukraine. u.s. officials warn putin may invade the former soviet state. russian forces are still near the border even after president biden recently warned putin of tough economic sanctions if he goes ahead. the front line in eastern ukraine, the drab and muddy war in the trenches and mine fields when we visited a few weeks ago, soldiers told us without american and nato support, they wouldn't be able to hold back the russian army for
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long. >> putin i think not stop in the ukraine. if we don't stop it here, they go further. >> reporter: the kremlin gave a positive read-out of the call, describing it frank and constructive and said the american side showed a willingness to understand the russian perspective. though, apparently productive diplomacy. peter? >> richard engel, thank you very much. we're back in a moment with the intense body cam footage after police confronted a tiger at a florida zoo.
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we're back with new details tonight from a florida zoo where a police officer shot and killed an endangered tiger after it bit into a worker's arm. kerry sanders has the latest and a warning that some of you may find this footage disturbing >> reporter: as the naples, florida zoo deputies approach the tiger exhibit, and there through the fence, a man's bloody left arm clenched in a tiger's powerful jaw >> oh, my god. is that real >> oh, my god. >> reporter: investigators say the 26-year-old custodian had gone where he wasn't allowed after hours reaching through the fence to either pet or feed the tiger. a deputy fired a single gunshot the tiger released 26-year-old river rosenquist the big cat named eko retreated, then died eko, an eight-year-old malayan tiger, the rarest of all tiger species.
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it is estimated there are fewer than 300 left on earth. the first 911 call for help came from the custodian himself. >> what's happening? >> i'm being attacked by a tiger please, please, please. >> you're being attacked by a tiger? >> reporter: in the chaos and horrific pain, rosenquist apologized for his actions. >> sorry i'm sorry. i'm sorry. i'm sorry. >> reporter: a state and federal wildlife investigation is now underway. >> we are grieving it is a sad day for sure. >> i hope he's also held liable for the death of this amazing animal. >> do you think the deputy had a choice at that point >> that police officer made the right decision he should be praised for going in there and saving that man's life. >> reporter: that 26-year-old tonight in stable condition, potentially say investigators facing charges learning the hard way you can take an animal out of the
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wild, but you cannot take the wild out of an animal. kerry sanders, nbc news now to breaking news today colorado's governor reduced the jail sentence for rogel aguilera-mederos he is a former truck driver who had been sentenced to 110 years for that crash that killed four people in 2019 after a public outcry, the governor reduced his sentence to 10 years. aguilera-mederos says his brakes failed causing that accident. after the break, a look back at some of the lives of the legends we lost this year
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finally tonight, our annual tribute to the towering figures who passed away this year leaders, artists and athletes, whose impact is unforgettable ♪ ♪ can't get no ♪ satisfaction ♪ i can't get no ♪ satisfaction ♪ i try ♪ though i try ♪ ♪ the love boat ♪ soon we'll be making - >> i am the captain.
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>> murray! come into my office. ♪ >> you know what you've got spunk >> well -- >> i hate spunk! >> new dress >> do you like it? >> yeah, i like it ♪ >> how's it going? >> dear, sweet. ♪ we're gonna make our dreams come true. >> the hands. ♪ >> welcome to the big-time ♪ these days are ours. >> i'm changing my swing from an underhand to an overhand ♪ >> he shoots and the rebound! ♪
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♪ because every girl's crazy about a sharp-dressed man ♪ >> the high fly to the deep left center field, and it's gone ♪ >> he finally goes down "marvelous" marvin hagler ♪ dream ♪ dream, dream, dream ♪ when i want you ♪ in my arms ♪ when i want you ♪ and all your charms ♪ whenever i want you ♪ all i have to do is dream
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♪ dream, dream, dream ♪ dream ♪ i can make you mine ♪ taste your lips of wine ♪ any time night or day ♪ only trouble is ♪ gee whiz ♪ i'm dreaming my life away. >> you'll see. one day you'll meet a girl and, bam, it will feel like you got hit in the face with a bag of quarters. ♪ i have found her ♪ she's an angel ♪ with the depth of the stars in her eyes ♪ we are dancing
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♪ we are flying ♪ and she's taking me back to the sky ♪ >> you love him, loretta? >> ma, i love him awful. >> oh, god that's too bad ♪ you ♪ you got what i need ♪ but you say he's just a friend ♪ but you say he's just a friend ♪ oh, baby, you ♪ you got what i need ♪ but you say he's just a friend ♪ but you say he's just a friend. >> get me vodka rocks. ♪
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♪ some day ♪ we'll be together ♪ say it, say it, say it again ♪ some sweet day ♪ we'll be together ♪ yes, i know it ♪ ♪ >> you have meddled with the primal forces of nature. ♪ take the last train to clarksville ♪ take the last train to clarksville >> norm macdonald is moving on. >> norm, i really want you to see someone
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>> it is not what office you hold, but how honest you are and how you face adversity and in your willingness to stand fast in hard places. >> so honored to have him kick off this week general colin powell do you miss government >> not really. i try not to miss anything in life ♪ the road is where you are ♪ i wonder if you think about me ♪ once upon a time ♪ in your wildest dreams ♪ i need a pocket fisherman ♪ help me ♪ mr. popeil >> this has been the sweetest ride of all ♪ i'll be seeing you ♪ in only your old familiar places ♪ got this heart of mine ever racing
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♪ all day through ♪ i'll be seeing you ♪ in all the old, familiar places ♪ i'll find you in the morning sun ♪ and when the night is through ♪ i'll be looking at the moon ♪ but i'll be seeing you >> so many unforgettable faces. and our thanks to producer katie and editor barry for that look back. that's nbc "nightly news" for this evening. i'm peter alexander. we thank you so much for watching have a good night.
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. i'm janelle wang. a sharp increase of covid cases across the bay area. how hospitals are being prepared for a potential surge. and we're told to rethink our new year's eve plans. and feet of new snow in the sierra. it looks good on paper, but how much is it really helping our drought? what we've learned about the long-term impact. good evening, everyone, this is nbc bay area news tonight. i'm janelle wang. we start tonight with a lot of new develop

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