tv PBS News Hour PBS April 27, 2021 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, unmasking-- the c.d.c. issues new guidance on face coverings as more americans are vaccinated and public spaces begin to reopen. then, the road ahead-- we break down the critical details of the biden administration's major push for infrastructure investment. and, getting the vaccine-- ghana struggles to convince a skeptical population of the benefits of receiving the shot against the coronavirus. >> we have adequately learnt our lessons from six years ago during the botched ebola vaccine trial. we know that risk communication is key in how we engage our community. >> woodruff: all that and more
>> the john s. and james l. knight foundation. fostering informed and engaged communities. more at kf.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president biden announced new guidance about wearing masks today, and specifically when masks are no
longer needed outside for vaccinated people. the latest recommendations still maintain important warnings about masking indoors and in crowds outside. the president, who has said he hopes the country is moving toward a more normal summer, made his remarks outside. >> starting today, if you're fully vaccinated and you are outdoors, you need, and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask. i want to be absolutely clear, if you're in a crowd like a stadium or at a conference, or a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you are outside. but beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic, as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask. >> woodruff: shortly before the president spoke, c.d.c. director
dr. rochelle walensky said she hoped the changes will entice more americans to get vaccinated. and she noted vaccinations will enable americans to do more indoor activities safely as well. >> as we gather more and more data on the real-world efficacy of vaccines, we know that masked, fully vaccinated people can safely attend worship services inside, go to an indoor restaurant or bar and even participate in an indoor exercise class. >> woodruff: let's understand more about this revised guidance with masking and what's safer to do with full vaccinations. dr. richard besser is the former acting director of the c.d.c. and is president and c.e.o. of the robert wood johnson foundation, which is a newshour funder. dr. richard besser, thank you so much for joining us again. we heard dr. walensky refer to this as a step back to normalcy. let's go back over the most important part of these new
guidelines, mainly with regard to what fully vaccinated people can do and starting with outdoors, how is that changing? >> well, it's exciting. for so long we have been telling people go ahead, get vaccinated, it's critically important, but nothing in your life will change. what we're hearing today is there are significant changes. if you are fully vaccinated, it's safe to go outside without a mask on as long as you're not in crowded places. that means a lot of places. you can go out for walks, to the park, walking down the street, as long as you're not in a crowded place, you can do that without a mask and recognize that it's a pretty safe thing do. you can get together with small groups of friends who are vaccinated, and you can be with people who aren't vaccinated as well. >> woodruff: and how does one term what is too large a crowd to be comfortable in without a mask? >> the c.d.c. is a little dodgy on what's a small crowd and what's a large crowd, and some depends on the circumstances
if you're in a state where there's still a lot of community transmission, if you're in michigan, you're going to want to be much more careful about crowds than if you're in a place where the numbers are really really low. so, you know, if you can swing your arms around you, i think you're in an area were you're not too crowded. if you're shoulder to shoulder, that's probably a place you may want to think about keeping that mask on. >> woodruff: and they're also giving new guidelines with regard to indoors, again, saying if you're fully vacs made you can be in your home or a small setting with other who are vaccinated and even those who aren't if there's no high risk. >> people think in terms of no risk or low risk and some is on a scale, if you're smsh with medical factors that puts you in increased risk of svere disease or if you're around people who ha that, then you want to be a little more careful. but one of the other things they talk about are settings where
you still may need to wear a mask, but they're pretty safe if you're fully vaccinated, so indoor dining, going to get your haircut, being in stores and in places where, in the past, you might be a little nervous about that. they recommend wearing a mask so that because to have the very small chance that you could spread this to someone else, but it's considered a very safe activity. >> woodruff: and still the big message coming through is, if you're not yet fully vaccinated, get vaccinated. we heard that time and again today. >> the other piece of that, judy, is that, you know, only about half the states are breaking down vaccination data by race and ethnicity and we know this pandemic has hit communities of color -- black, latino, native american communities -- the hardest. it's not about just getting vaccinated, it's about states and localities upping the game, getting vaccinations to people where they are, because what we've seen is this massive rub
for vaccination and now the numbers are going down. the numbers are going down because the backlog has been met and now it's all about making it as easy as possible for people where it may be challenging. they may not get time off work, it may be harder to travel to a vaccine site. get them to people where they are and report data by race and ethnicity so you can see areas where you have to target additional resources. >> woodruff: one other thing i want to talk to you about dr. richard besser is an article you co-wrote in the last few days that you're concerned not enough attention is paid to the safety of children in this pandemic. can you expand on that? >> yeah, judy, i'm a pediatrician and a parent and one of the silver linings in this pandemic is, thankfully, children don't have a severe disease, they're less likely to be hospitalized and die, but, i think, because of that, we haven't paid enough attention to children and their needs. there have been hundreds of children who have died, there have been a few thousands of children who developed this
unusual inflammatory syndrome and we don't know the long-term consequences there, and then the social-motional impact on children from missing school, from not being in their social groups, from losing parents, the needs of children have to be met and i think until there are safe and effective vaccines for children, we're not going to be done with this pandemic and we really need to heed the guidance from c.d.c. and state and local public health. >> woodruff: and that's a sobering reminder for all of us whether we have children or grandchildren or friends' children and certainly with regard to schools. >> that's right. and when you look at the challenges in schools, it's not being borne evenly. you know, black and brown children are much more likely to be in schools that aren't able to provide in-person learning. you know, thankfully, in the american rescue act, there's a lot of money there for schools. we need to make sure that goes to schools to provide the kind of ventilation and allows them to hire the staff and do the
things to make school a safe place for all children. that's what the next phase is all about as rear ramping down because, in the fall, there may be vaccines for middle school and high school age children but there won't be vaccines for younger children, and we want to get every child in america back in school learning. >> woodruff: so many people paying attention to that and waiting for more good news about vaccines for children. dr. richard besser, president of the robert wood johnson foundation, thank you so much. >> thatch, judy. thank you very much, judy. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, president biden spoke with india's prime minister, as that country's covid crisis kept growing. the indian health ministry reported another 323,000 infections and nearly 2,800 deaths over 24 hours.
mr. biden said he promised u.s. help, including vaccine. meanwhile, foreign aid began trickling into india, including ventilators and other supplies. but many complained it isn't coming fast enough. >> ( translated ): i am fed up, no one is listening here. i need oxygen, my husband's oxygen levels are going down. doctors are saying they don't have cylinders of oxygen. >> woodruff: the world health organization said today it believes three covid variants, and large public gatherings, are fueling the country's surge. the biden administration is out with new initiatives on immigration, as numbers crossing the southern border hit records. the first aims to identify human smugglers and freeze their assets. immigration agents will also curtail arrests in or near courthouses. officials say the change will ensure equal access to justice. the f.b.i. today opened a civil
rights investigation into the killing of a black man in elizabeth city, north carolina. sheriff's deputies fatally shot andrew brown last week. they say he tried to drive off as they served a drug warrant. family lawyers said today that an independent autopsy found brown was shot five times from behind. >> this in fact was the fatal wound to the back of mr. brown's head as he was leaving the site trying to evade being shot at by these particular law enforcement officers who we believe did nothing but a straight out execution. >> woodruff: north carolina governor roy cooper called today for a special prosecutor in the case. the state attorney general said first, the local district attorney must ask for one. the united states has had a confrontation with iran in the persian gulf, for the first time in a year.
u.s. navy footage released today shows a revolutionary guard ship cutting in front of a u.s. coast guard vessel this month, forcing a hard stop to avoid a collision. american officials say a second incident occurred that same day. the u.s. state department today ordered much of its embassy staff to leave afghanistan. american troops have already begun leaving, ahead of president biden's september 11 deadline for a total withdrawal. at a u.s. senate hearing, special envoy zalmay khalilzad said he does expect an imminent collapse of the afghan government, but he acknowledged that afghan women and minorities may suffer, if the taliban regains power. >> if they do want u.s. assistance, they want international acceptance, they want to end their prior state, they want delisting-- those things will be all affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost, women of afghanistan, children and minorities. >> woodruff: the u.s. withdrawal
is taking place as peace talks between the taliban and the kabul government are stalled. a leading human rights group accused israel today of practicing apartheid against palestinians. human rights watch issued a lengthy report that cited systematic discrimination. israel in turn charged that the group has "a longstanding anti- israeli agenda." back in this country, president biden issued an executive order, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal contractors. it's currently just below $11 an hour. the increase takes full effect by march of next year. the federal government has some five million contract workers. consumer confidence rose sharply in april, to its highest level since the pandemic began. and, home prices shot up nearly 12% in february, from a year earlier, the most in nearly seven years. but the news failed to move wall street today.
the dow jones industrial average gained just three points to close near 33,985. the nasdaq fell 48 points, and, the s&p 500 lost a fraction of a point. still to come on the newshour. we break down the details of the push for infrastructure investment. misinformation about access to meat abounds on conservative media. ghana struggles to convince a skeptical population to get the vaccine. plus much more. >> woodruff: president biden will face congress and the nation, laying out his vision to create jobs, combat covid and confront climate change. behind the bold vision, a
complex mix of funding, causing confusion at the state level. our lisa desjardins is here to help us all follow the money. hello to lisa. so, lisa, tell us, what is it that congress is considering and why is this historic? >> judy, i know people have heard infrastructure week for so long, but, listen, this is the time to pay attention because what we have here right now is not just a oncin a generation influx of spending on infrastructure, but perhaps a once in a century type of spending on infrastructure. and i want to clear up exactly what's happening. let's go through the four different ways that congress is trying to spend money on infrastructure. first, the american rescue plan, that was that big bill passed in march, that is already in law, $350 billion that states can use for many types of infrastructure. next, happening now, water,
energy and highway bills, those are authorization bills. they don't spend the money yet but really get the pipeline moving and those right now are bipartisan. in addition to those bills, we are also seeing the return of earmarks. democrats in the house and the senate would like to bring back earmarks for the appropriations bills and some transportation ideas but for the annual spending bills so that every member of congress, for example, could say i want money for this bridge or this road, and it's interesting because the deadline to get those project proposals in for every member of congress is this week in the house. and last thing, we know the biden jobs plan, as you mentioned, that's expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars just in and of itself. judy, talking to congressional offices that are well managed offices especially in the house, they are inundated by counties and cities asking them for more information about how they can get this money, how they can request things like earmarks.
again, the deadline for those requests is this week. >> woodruff: sstate and local governments would have a lot to do with all this. how are they approaching it? >> well, i want to play a byte by someone who's paying very close attention to this and that is representative david price of north carolina, he chairs the subcommittee on transportation for house appropriations. just to give you a feel for how frenetic this is. >> this is a huge moment for those who care about infrastructure to pull out all the stops and try to get it done. i guarantee you that most congressional offices are scrambling right now to deal with the requests that are coming in. >> and then, at the same time, states are getting ready to get that american rescue plan money that has been passed, and they're trying to deliberate how to spend it. want to look at what some states are considering for the rescue
plan money that should arrive in the next few weeks. florida is considering major environmental clean-ups and replenishing a big transportation fund. in maine, they're talking about a major broadband push that could bring broadband out to some of the most rural areas of the state. and counties across the country like lake county, indiana, we're talking roads, bridges, sewers, county money. this money is going to every single county in this country, sometimes as much as a third or more of their annual budget. i can't stress enough what a major kind of influx of cash this could be across the country. >> woodruff: so importanto be talking about this, lisa. and as you're saying, if people are paying attention from one end to have the country to the other, lisa desjarns who will continue to watch this story very closely. thank you, lisa.
>> woodruff: with all the facts, fiction and disinformation flying around these days, it can be hard to decipher the truth, depending on where you get your information. amna nawaz breaks down how recent lies about president biden wanting to end the eating of red meat reveal concerning realities about our political climate. >> nawaz: but that's not what the study said. a day after the mail flushed president biden's plans could limit americans to one hamburger a month. larry kudlow blasted biden's climate goals as anti-beef. kudlow and the daily mail article cited a university of michigan study. >> speaking of stupid, there's a study >> speaking of stupid, there's a study coming out of the university of michigan which says that to meet the biden
green new deal targets, america has to, get this, america has to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry and fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, and animal-based fats. >> nawaz: but that's not what the study said. it actually found that reducing red meat intake could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. it was never tied to biden's climate plans. >> they want to control your food. >> nawaz: but the article and kudlow's outrage set off a right-wing media frenzy. the misinformation spread to online news sites and people's facebook feeds. texas republican governor greg abbt and lawmakers even posted about it, falsely claiming biden wanted to severely limit red meat. amid criticism, fox news issued a clarification about their reporting. >> the data was accurate but a graphic and the script incorrectly implied that it was part of biden's plan for dealing with climate change. that is not the case. >> nawaz: the beef whopper shows how misinformation can quickly spread and take hold in the
current political climate. >> canceling dr. seuss isn't stupid, it's intentional, >> nawaz: it's similar to the conservative uproar over the false stories of dr. seuss bei“" canceled” when the books' publisher simply said it would stop printing several seuss books with racist depictions. now to discuss what that study actually said about our diets and greenhouse gas emissions, i'm joined by martin heller. he's one of the authors of the study and is a senior research specialist at the center for sustainable systems at the university of michigan. dr. heller, welcomeo the "newshour", and thank you for making the time. i have to ask, when you saw this story spreading, when you saw that it was linked to your study, what was your initial reaction? >> mmm... disbelief, befuddlement. yes, you know, it's a long ways from our intention with the study. we certainly were not aiming to look at policy recommendations with this particular study.
>> reporter: and what was your intention with the study? let's separate fact from fiction here. what did your study actually say? >> sure. well, really, we were just looking to demonstrate the opportunity this is in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from makeshift center diets. we looked at a number of hypothetical scenarios. what if we reduced our animal based food consumption by 50% in the u.s., what would that mean for our greenhouse gas emissions? and we did an additional scenario, what if we reduced our beef consumption to 90%, took that even farther. and what we found was reducing our animal based food consumption by 50% can lower our greenhouse gas emissions from our diet from producing that food by 36%. if we take beef down to that very low level, 90% lower than our current consumption, it
would cult our emissions from food production in half. >> woodruff: so you were essentially evaluating different scenarios of what could possibly happen. but to be clear, did any part of your study say americans should stop eating red meat? >> not at all, no. again, we're presenting the opportunity and, yes, it was not intended to be a recommendation. these are fairly extreme scenarios, i would say. you know, largely to demonstrate those opportunities. >> woodruff: >> reporter: so let me ask you to explain the science a lilt bit here. in terms of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and our diet, specifically americans' guy et cetera around red meat, what should we know about that? what is the environmental foot footprint of our current meat consumption. >> producing animals contributes to greenhouse gas emissionings in a few ways. one big part is growing the feed that is required for those animals. animals, like cattle, like beef
cattle, require a lot of feed to offer a unit of food that we can then consume. those animals like beef cattle have an additional impact in that their biology that allows them to get nutrients from roughages like grass as a by-product produces methane, and we know methane to be a very potent greenhouse gas, so that is a mainly contributor to the emissions associated with animal based food. just to put it in perspective a little bit, red meat -- so beef, pork and lamb -- represents 9% of our calories in the average u.s. diet. it represents 47% to have the greenhouse gas emissions associated with ouriet. those that's those three. and beef is 40% of the emissions associated with our diet. so beef is a big contributor here in the u.s. where we consume such large quantities of it.
>> reporter: dr. heller, let me ask you, because you grew up on a livestock farm, we may point out, what do you make of how the conversation has unfolded, the life it's taken on right now. >> yeah, i think it's an important conversation for us to be having. i find it's a bit unfortunate that the conversation gets pushed to these extremes because as we're demonstrating here there are real opportunities in, you know, relatively moderate changes in our diets in contributing to this climate crisis that we're currently a part of, and contributing to the solution to that climate crisis. >> reporter: that is dr. martin heller of the center for sustainable systems at the university of michigan. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. >> reporter: the red meat conspiracy is just one of a number of myths circulating on the internet about president biden's policies including related to the pandemic. here to explain how these
falsehoods spread and how to counteract them is graham brookie, director of the digital forensic research lab at the atlantic council. welcome bag to the "newshour". thanks for making the time, graham brookie. the revolution of this one red meat story that starts with a piece of information, represented, pack and as false claims and takes off online in some media circles. is this a pattern now? have we seen this with other issues? >> yes, absolutely. this is a part of a wider pattern of domestic misand disinformation that we're seeing accelerate for sure here in the united states. one of the interesting things about this case of this misinformation about whether or not we'll be able to eat beef here in the near future is particularly interesting. one to have the amplifiers of this is congressman lauren boebert. she has a ramping constituency, so this case in particular is
false. we will all be able to eat rete meat, but it's interesting in that it's literally and figuratively red meat conspiracy theories for her political strategy. >> reporter: and one of the places we saw the claims being amplified was of course on fox news. there's a clip to play from host tucker carlson because there's the other piece i've with seen in the explosion of misinformation online, this sort of brandishing of information as cultural war fair, we're talking during a pandemic, masking has become a political issue. last nightn fox news host tucker carlson weighed in on mask waring in public and said this. >> your response when you see children wearing a masks when they play should be no different than someone beating a kid in wal-mart. call child protective services and keep calling till someone arrives. it's child abuse. >> reporter: graham, someone like tucker carlson with an audience of his size, making a statement likening it to child
abuse what's the impact of a statement like that? >> tucker carlson has a nightly viewership of millions of people. first of all, that statement is false. second, we're in the middle of a public health crisis in which the information we need to make decisions about our own personal health is evolving. so today is c.d.c. guidelines on masks evolved, it changed, it means that we have new guidance, and that's to be expected until this pandemic is over. it is not over yet. so this information is less about getting the evidence right and more about signaling to an audience. and, so, when tucker carlson has stories like this, it's less about journalism and more about ideology and amplifying that ideology to a very significant amount of people across the united states. >> reporter: specific to fox news, bringing it back to the red meat story we talked about earlier, they did come out and say we're walking this back, our script implied something that
was not in fact true. what's the impact of something like that? once the misinformation is out there, coming back to correct it later? >> right. well, the myth is always going to be -- reach more people, the original falsehood is always going to reach more people than the correction, and that's the ball game here. whenever you have a false narrative that gains a certain amount of traction, it will reach more people than all of the work that it takes to correct that falsehood or reach all of the people that the falsehood had originally reached. and that continues to be a major vulnerability during our public health response to the ongoing pandemic. >> reporter: when you're talking about things that are sad, it's also now we're looking at the real world implications of that misinformation and disinformation. there's an example that caught a lot of people's attention in florida, a private school in miami sent a letter basically discouraging faculty and staff
against getting vaccinated from covid 19 saying she's not sure they're safe and if faculty get them they can't be around students. the c.d.c., f.d.a., all world health organizatio, saying the vaccinations are safe. once that makes its way into the real world, what can be done to combat i? >> we have to correct it. we have a role to play. everyone thinks disinformation is somebody else's problem. and where we have cases like the unverified narratives spread by tucker carlson, that the a structural issue. we have to have policies and create resilience against that. but in our day to day lives, we have a responsibility to address misinformation especially when it affect our day-to-day lives. the first and best practice is always refer back to or at least look for publicly accountable science-based sources and, in this case, you know, nationally, we have coronavirus.gov that's run by the c.d.c., it's updated
every single day with the latest guidance, but in local cases where the situation might be slightly different from one neighborhood to another or one town to another, the first and best practice is to refer to your local public health officials. >> reporter: so, graham, a lot of these examples we're talking about are generated the right-leaning media circles or outlets. are there comparable examples coming from the left? >> well, one of the main points is disinformation and misinfmation is not always ideological. what we've seen about public health misinformation about coronavirus is the scale of far ecosystems in the united states is far greater and has far greaterrismfication and infrastructure and engame than sources of misinformation or instances of misinformation or unverified information from other ends of the ideological spectrum. so that's a long way of saying where fox news exists by an
entire ecosystem and has a lot of amplification and reach, that doesn't necessarily exist for types of misinformation from other ideological ends of the spectrum in the united states at this point. >> reporter: graham brookie, helping us sort fact from fiction joining us from the atlantic council's digital forensic research lab. thanks, graham, good to see you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: misinformation, the colonial past, and a botched ebola vaccine trial all come into play in ghana as it fights to get the covid-19 vaccine into the arms of most of the 30 million people who live there. the west african country, praised by the african c.d.c. for its quick response to the covid-19 pandemic, is now on the front line in the fight against vaccine hesitancy. from the capital, accra, special
correspondent nabil ahmed rufai. >> reporter: the lines at this vaccination center in ghana's capital accra are misleading. according to polling here, more than 10 million ghanaians-- one third of the country-- say they don't want to be vaccinated against covid-19. like the atta-kwaku family, traders who live in a small town in the volta region, in eastern ghana. the vaccination drive hasn't started yet in this part of the country but it's become a much- discussed topic >> ( translated ): i have never been to the hospital to treat any illness. i rely on traditional medicine. so i don't see the need to take the covid-19 vaccine. >> ( translated ): though the vaccine is not in yet, some of us have the preconceived mindset that we will not take the vaccine, once it is in. >> reporter: vaccine skepticism had set in among many ghanaians even before the country received
any shots. some people cite a viral video made by a now discredited doctor in belgium who claimed covid-19 was a hoax, as a reason for the skepticism. >> this vaccine is just not proven safe. >> reporter: the viral video circulating among ghanaians has caused many to be hesitant about taking the covid-19 shots. president akufo addo and his wife were the first in ghana to get the shot, and they did so on live tv. when the country received the first 600,000 doses of astrazeneca vaccines under the covax global vaccine-sharing program. it was aimed at dispelling myths about the vaccines. >> taking the vaccine will not alter your d.n.a., it will not embed a tracking device in your body, neither will it cause infertility in women or in men. >> reporter: but ghana's vaccine
hesitancy has roots that pre- date covid-19. in the small volta town of hohoe, the memory of ebola vaccine trials by pharmaceutical companies johnson and johnson and glaxo smith kline in 2015, is fresh. local media reported that people were given $50, mobile phones and other incentives to be used as volunteers for the tests. some people say they were not informed of the vaccine's risks claiming they were going to be used as guinea pigs. this sparked national outrage. ultimately, the government suspended the ebola vaccine trials. >> people didn't understand the concept very well. >> reporter: ishmael agyemang was among the 36 volunteers selected for one of the ebola clinical trials. he says the ebola trials should not discourage people from getting the covid-19 vaccine. >> what happened in 2015if the
education was to go on, on the reason why the test for the ebola vaccine should have taken place in hohoe, i think people would understand the current situation we find ourselves with respect to the covid vaccine. >> reporter: the controversy surrounding the failed ebola vaccine trials is one reason the atta-kwaku family is adamant it won't take part in the covid-19 vaccination. >> ( translated ): when the ebola vaccine trial came up, we didn't understand why they were going to use our people when we didn't have any cases of ebola in ghana. now i don't trust the covid-19 vaccine. so i won't allow any of my children to take it. >> reporter: the ghana health service says it's doing things differently this time. >> at no point are you even allowed to induce anybody to participate in a trial. we have adequately learnt our lessons from six years ago during the botched ebola vaccine
trial. we know that risk communication is key in how we engage our community. what we call community entry procedures, very important. we have to get to our stakeholders and speak to them about exactly what the vaccination is about so that they are able to accept it. >> reporter: the mistrust about foreign medicine and vaccination in ghana dates back to the british colonial rule in the 19th century and still resonates with some ghanaians after more than 60 years of independence. after the country attained in the inner-city of the capital, accra, these women look back at a time when people rejected vaccination against meningitis because they did not trust foreign medicine as they did their herbal drugs. grace quaye remembers. >> ( translated ): people were scared of the vaccination during the colonial times when there was an outbreak of diseases
because they thought it was meant to kill them. but some of us took the shot. >> reporter: the rejection of foreign medicine and vaccination by some ghanaians in the past and the failed ebola vaccine trials have made it even more difficult to convince skeptics to take the covid-19 jabs. so far, ghana has vaccinated re than 800,000 people including frontline health workers, journalists and vulnerable groups in three out of 16 regions in the country. ghana plans to buy another 42 million doses of covid-19 vaccines. that, along with the doses it's already received under the covax program, would be enough to inoculate the 20 million people the government says it wants to vaccinate by the end of the year. if ghana manages to get that many doses, it will still need to convince people to get the shots. ghana's health service has begun rolling out campaigns on social media to encourage people to get the covid-19 vaccination.
>> getting vaccinated is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and loved ones from covid-19. >> reporter: dr. bernard okoe boye is a member of ghana's covid-19 management team. he says ghanaians will make history together by getting the vaccination. >> people should have confidence in the process. what we are doing is to get more people on video saying that "i took it and i'm still fine.” >> reporter: public health experts say it will take a concerted effort to convince enough people to take the vaccine in order to achieve herd immunity. >> reporter: back in hohoe, ishmael agyemang is on a personal crusade, going door to door, to homes in his community to raise awareness about the vaccines, one person at a time. for the pbs newshour, i'm nabil ahmed rufai in hohoe, ghana.
>> woodruff: marine scientists say they have identified more than 25,000 barrels that they believe contain the toxic chemical d.d.t. in the pacific ocean. a massive underwater toxic waste site dating back to world war two has long been suspected off the shore of southern california, given industrial companies had used the ocean as a dumping ground there until 1972. but as stephanie sy reports, the magnitude of this problem was not previously known. >> sy: judy, "staggering", "overwhelming"-- that was how researchers described the amount of these potentially toxic barrels they mapped in a survey last month. the scripps institution of oceanography team used autonomous under water vehicles and sonar to survey 36,000 acres of a dump site that lies between the coast off los angeles and
catalina island. for decades, researchers have detected high levels of d.d.t. in marine mammals, including dolphins. sea lions in the area have died of an aggressive cancer. for a deeper look at the iact of the discovery, i'm joined by u.c. santa barbara professor of microbiology david valentine, who first identified dozens of these d.d.t. barrels nearly a decade ago. professor valentine, thank you for joining the "newshour". so what do you make of these new findings? do they further validate your suspensions about this dump site from dozens of barrels you found ten years ago to tens of thousands? >> thank you, stephanie, for having me and, yes, this is an important piece of information that we simply lacked before. now knowing that 27,000 barrel-like objects were present in a survey area that is still not the full scope of where
dumping likely occurred. so, to me, this is an indication that we have a real problem going on down on the sea floor there. >> reporter: you shared photos with us, and you can see that some of the barrels are corroded. could some, professor valentine, still be leaking? and what do we know about how these old chemicals are still impacting the environment and animal life? >> yeah. when we were working at the site in 2011 and then again in 2013, we observed all sorts different barrels in different shapes and sizes and some of them were heavily decomposed. some of them appear to be at least somewhat in tact, so we don't know that proportion that. what we do know is some of the material, these ddt wastes did escape containment and were present in the sediments even away from barrels in concentrations that were extremely high. so we know that there's this
escape of containment and we know that these materials are there and can potentially get back into animals in the ecosystem. >> reporter: you said we don't even know now the full extent of this dump site. one of the script scientists said it was more than twice the size of manhattan that they surveyed, and it continuedch i've read that there could be hundreds of thousands of these barrels. other than studying all of this, professor valentine, is there anything that can be practically doneo address it? >> well, i think you touch on an important point. you know, we know that there's now at least tens of thousands, and likely hundreds of thousands of objects down there, many of which are barrels, and there is quite a bit of study that we do have to do in order to get to the point where we can really address the question of what can we do to clean this up. and i think, until we understand the full scope of the problem, we can't really lay out all of our options because there are
things that happen naturally in the ocean. microbes can break these things down under the right circumstances, they can get buried long term. we don't know the extent to which those things may or may not be happening with these wastes, and i think we need to know that before we can really chart the path forward. >> reporter: but you and other researchers did meet with senator dianne feinstein to brief her on the data just yesterday. what is your ask from her and others in congress? >> well, our ask is that we need the support from the federal government to really understand what is happening in this environment. you know, i think we're seeing the tip of the iceberg right now. we know there's 27,000 barrels, but we don't know what's in each and every one of those barrels. we know there's ddt but we don't know quite what else is down there. so we need to figure out just how much are we dealing with, how much is there, and what are the ocesses that are active in moving this stuff around, in the transport and transformation,
and what are the effects. and those are -- that's the ask is to work with the scientific community, to have the federal government work with the scientific community, in order to push this forward and get that understanding that we can use to chart the path forward. >> reporter: marine biologists have detected ddt in animal life around the los angeles area off the coast there for decades. they have seen require aggressive cancer among sea lions. and, yet, the attention seems relatively recent. you have been trying to get people to care about this issue for a while. why the sudden attention? >> you know, i think a lot of it has to do with the release of images and video and, you know, we came across the site back in 2011, and it took is years to work up and understand what we were really seeing and to publish something in the scientific peer reviewed literature that paved the way
for our understanding. in doing that we released the video and images to go along with it. that triggered an investigative report by shaw in the "new york times" and that created the public interest now that we have knowledge to back up that imagery and we can say something about what's really going on down there. >> reporter: a toxic legacy we are now only beginning to fully grasp. david valentine with u.c. santa barbara, thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us. >> thank you for having me, stephanie. >> woodruff: if you think the last year has been not only tragic, but in many ways, weird, wait-- the bugs are coming. billions of bugs. the periodic cicada invasion is days away in many states.
but have no fear. john yang lays out what you need to know to cope with the coming brood. >> okay, so let's see if we can find somebody under here. >> yang: entomologist mike raupp, a.k.a. “the bug guy” and i are hunting cicada in his neighbor's backyard in columbia maryland. >> boy, there we go, look at that. oh, yeah. >> yang: raupp, his neighbor tim hughes, and i, all of us fully- vaccinated, along with hughes's three-year-old granddaughter, emily, were looking for brood ten cicadas. what do you a think? >> pretty go? >> yang: good? >> he's pretty cute isn't he? >> yang: we dug up the cicadas and then put them back. but soon we won't have to look very hard for them. they'll climb out from holes in the ground after 17 years below
the surface. and there will be a lot of them. >> 12, 13, 14 holes. that's probably going to translate in an acre to several hundred thousand cicadas per acre. >> yang: wow! just in this backyard. >> it is going to be crazy. there are literally going to be billions, if not trillions of periodical cicadas emerging in 15 states from georgia to new york city and then west to the mississippi river, ohio, indiana and illinois. >> yang: northern american periodical cicadas emerge together in groups called broods in distinct geographic areas after spending 13 or 17 years underground. brood ten is one of the biggest and will come out when the soil hits 64 degrees. >> these guys have been underground for 17 years, sucking on the sap of tree roots. they're going to make a jailbreak just at nightfall.
their skin is going to split open on the back. they're going to pop out of there. and they're going to move to the safety of the treetops. then within a span of about maybe a week or ten days, it's going to be a big boy band because only the males sing. >> yang: and they are loud; up to 100 decibels. as noisy as a lawnmower. >> and john, it's going to be all about romance at that time. remember, these are teenagers. they're 17 years old. they've been underground. once they're up in the treetops, he's going to do his very best to convince that special someone that she should be the mother of his nymphs. if she likes it, she's going to flick her wings. they're going to hook up, they're going to mate. >> yang: the females lay their eggs in small tree branches and then the grownups die. after the eggs hatch, the nymphs fall to the ground, burrow into
the soil and the cycle starts again. >> these are the very parents of the class of 2021. >> yang: raupp saved some cicadas from the last emergence in 2004. >> we have two different species in the box right now. these are called the septendecums where these little guys right here, those are my favorites. those are called the cassinis. >> yang: chris hughes remembers feeling overwhelmed 17 years ago. >> it's just dramatic how many there were. literally the entire yard was moving. in fact, it was moving so much that we got up. and you know how you feel when you get off a boat, you're a little woozy? that's exactly how we felt. >> yang: instead of sea legs you had cicada legs. >> cicada legs, yes. >> yang: evolutionary biologist chris simon says there's a reason for their abundance. >> when they come up, everything eats them. they have this sort of safety in numbers strategy so that
eventually predators get tired of eating them and enough are left that they can survive and reproduce. they'll all come out at exactly the same time. >> yang: cicadas have even become cultural icons. simon showed us souvenirs like this jade cicada. >> they've traditionally been put in the mouths of dead people in asia to carry their spirits into the next world. this is a bumper sticker from nashville. this one says sing mate die. cicadas are also really well- loved in japan, and so this can transform into a robot. it's called cicada con. >> yang: but periodical cicadas may be transforming in real life. simon is studying whether climate change is spurring them to mature faster. >> we've seen many more cicadas coming out four years early and not only coming out four years early, but coming out four years early in larger numbers and they mate and lay eggs and the eggs hatch.
and so in previous years, we've seen them come out four years early, but there weren't as many. they don't establish a self- reproducing population. so we used to think it was an evolutionary dead end. >> yang: but not anymore. in 27 simon tracked brood ten cicadas that emerged four years early and estimates there were millions of them. >> with climate change, there's warming and the warming provides longer growing seasons for the trees and for the cicadas. and so as the feeding season gets longer, the cicadas can grow faster. >> yang: the brood ten emergence will give simon a chance to collect new data. but for those who may fear the appearance of billions of bugs? >> they're not going to bite. they're not going to sting. they're not going to grab dogs and small children like the monkeys in the wizard of oz and fly away with them. these are harmless creatures. >> yang: raupp, for one, cannot wait for the cicadapalooza. >> this is like having a
national geographic special right in your own backyard. it's going to have birth. it's going to have death. it's going to have romance in the treetops. it's going to have cicadas battling predators. it's going to be better than an episode of game of thrones. >> yang: so sit back and enjoy the show. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: on the newshour online, india produces more covid-19 vaccine than any other country in the world. so how did the pandemic get out of control there? we explore the global health breakdowns that drive inequality in vaccine access. all that and more at: pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. please join us tomorrow for special live coverage and analysis of president biden's first joint address to congress. it begins at 9:00 p.m. eastern
on your pbs station and online on our social channels. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace a security. at carnegie.org.
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