tv PBS News Hour PBS December 22, 2021 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> wdruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff on the "newshour" tonight, the cost of covid: hospitals struggle to handle the influx of covid patients following the rapid spread of the omicron variant then, high stakes: we speak to a progressive democrat about whether his party can salvage the president's derailed legislative agenda and the vaccine gap: the racial divide on covid vaccinations remains stubbornly wide with many black americans still skeptical of the shots. >> one of the main problems is that people are scared. that's real. how do we get fear out of people? >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's "pbs newshour."
>> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. committed to improving lives >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> 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: the food and drug administration authorized the
first pill today for an at-home covid treatment to prevent hospitalizations. high-risk patients who are 12 or older and weigh at least 88 pounds will be eligible for the medication from pfizer if prescribed by a doctor. the company says it cut the risk of hospitalization by almost 90% if taken within a few days of initial symptoms. white house officials said today the initial supply of the pill, known as paxlovid, will be limited. >> we will have 265,000 treatment courses of pfizer available in january. with monthly totals of pills ramping up across the year, and all ten million treatment courses delivered by late summer. just as we've done with vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments we will ensure equity is at the center of antiviral distribution.
>> woodruff: in the day's other news, the biden administration extended its student loan moratorium until may 1. it's allowed tens of millions of americans to put off their debt payments during the pandemic, and was set to expire at the end of january. white house press secretary jen psaki explained what factored into the decision >> millions of people across the country are still struggling with the ongoing threat of the pandemic. many of them are student loan borrowers. this is something the president's thought a lot about over the last several days in coordination and, of course conjunction and discussions with the vice president and it led to the decision to extend 'til may. >> woodruff: we'll have more on this later in the program. the u.s. secret service says nearly $100-billion have been stolen from pandemic relief funds intended to help struggling businesses and unemployed workers. the agency is investigating more than 900 cases of possible pandemic fraud. the lost sum is less than 3% of
the total funds across pandemic benefit programs as the pandemic rages on, a record number of americans are signing up for health insurance through the affordable care act's marketplaces. the u.s. department of health and human services reported 13.6-million americans signed up for coverage from november 1 to december 15 alone. enrollment remains open until january 15. overseas, new covid infections in south africa are falling, a sign the country's omicron- driven surge might be past its peak. last week, the country reached a high of nearly 27,000 new infections, but by yesterday had fallen to arou 15,000. medical experts said the drop could be due to how quickly the highly-contagious omicron variant spread early on. >> we had a lot of infections, so people really start creating immunity in the community, and
so there are not that many susceptible individuals that will be infected. >> woodruff: more than 44% of south africa's adult population is fully vaccinated. libya's presidential election, scheduled for friday, is now being postponed. that comes amid ongoing disputes and the election commission's failure to put forth a final list of candidates. it's a major setback to ending the violence and division that's plagued the north african country since 2011, when its dictator, moammar gadhafi, was killed in an uprising. in madagascar, at least 83 people were confirmed dead today after an illegally overcrowded cargo ship sank in the indian ocean. the incident happened early monday morning off the country's northeastern coast. 50 passengers were rescued, but five others are still missing back in this country, the u.s. house committee investigating the capitol attack now wants to
interview republican representative jim jordan of ohio. the committee is seeking details on his communication with former president trump on and leading up to january 6. he is the second sitting congressman to receive an interview request from the panel this week. the national highway traffic safety administration has opened an investigation into tesla vehicles over a function that lets drivers play video games while the vehicle is moving. the probe covers about 580,000 electric cars and s.u.v.s. the agency says the feature, called "passenger play," could distract drivers and increase the risk of crashing. the nation's economy grew 2.3% in the third quarter. the commerce department said that's up slightly from last month's 2.1% estimate. it attributed that rise to stronger consumer spending and
replenished inventories. and, stocks rallied on wall street today, boosted by gains in the technology and retail sectors. the dow jones industrial average surged 261 points to close at 35,754. the nasdaq rose 181 points. and the s&p 500 added 47. still to come on the "newshour," how an expiring child care tax credit could affect families' finances. a civil war rages in ethiopia as the government rejects calls for a ceasefire. a new exhibit chronicles the struggles of displaced people. plus much more.
>> woodruff: in the three days since senator joe manchin threw up a massive roadblock on the $1.75-trillion "build back better" agenda, democrats have begun the scramble to salvage the bill or at least its key priorities. for progressives, the breakdown was what they feared all along. yamiche alcindor talks to one house democrat about the road ahead. >> judy, last month, just six house democrats voted against a bipartisan infrastructure bill because they wanted a vote on the larger social spending plan at the same time. now, they are expressing frustration with manchin for holding up the bill. new york congressman jamaal bowman is one of them, and he joins me now. thank you for being here, congressman, so the white house put out the statement on sunday saying that senator manchin had made a breach of commitment to the president, to senators as well as house members but then the next day the white house press secretary said that joe manchin
and president biden is very long time friends, what do you make of that change in tone and what do you think lead to it as you talked to your fellow lawmakers. >> so i'm hoping the change in tone means we are moving one step clor towards passing the build back better act in some form. i know manchin came out on sunday saying he was a no, which prompted the white house's strong response, which i was happy to see. because you mow, they have been negotiating in good faith with manchin for several weeks now. and i think the pivot in tone hopefully indicates that manchin is ready to move forward in some capacity. >> i want to then also ask you in talking about finding common ground you said senator manchin doesn't care about black people, latinos, immigrantsk women, the poor, how concerned are yothat that makes it harder to find common ground? > you know, st important for us to have honest conversations about congress, how it works and our overall democracy.
and a racial analysis is needed as we have those conversations, so build back better disproportionately supports people of color whereas many of the policies we pass through congress does not. and it is important to ask the question does him being a white male have anything to do with how he approaches policies like this and how he proachs governing overall. >> and of course senator manchin says that he is representing the sort of needs and concerns of people in west virginia. >> yeah, sure, that's great. you know, it's just in erm its of poverty rates in west virginia, in terms of child poverty rates in west virginia and other social determine ants of positive outcomes, west virginia really struggles in those areas. and i have heard from people from west virginia who thank me for many of my comments because they feel afraid or intimidated
to even say anything or challenge the senator in any of these areas. so you know, the senator has to do what he has to do. obviously for west virginia, but also for the entire country. and i just think this idea of trickle down economics and the way our current economic system works just leaves too many people behind. and that's something that has been unacceptable and something i will always push back against. >> now senate minority leader mitch mcconnell has been openly pitching senator manchin joining the republican party. in your mind, is there room in the democratic party, this current democratic party for someone like senator manchin? >> that's a great question. and i would have to say yes, because the party is a big tank, i just think senator manchin and others in the party too, because st not just him, need to get on board with what is happening in the 21s sent radio he economy, and our beautiful 21s century
multiracial democracy. we have to make sure everyone is involved. we, meaning the democratic party in particular have to make sure that our big ten is fully represented in our dem-- democracy and em has a voice strk not just an old boy's network. >> the chairwoman of the congressional, progressive caucus as well as the chair of the moderate new democratic coalition both said, of course, and acknowledged that joe manchin is going to need to vote for whatever democrats want to pass, what are you willing to compromise on, are you willing to break up this bill and vote on parts of it it, maybe have president biden pass executive orders on other parts. >> we have already compromised from 3.5 trillion to 12.75 trillion from ten years to five years to 60 years, you know, if manchin has a 1.8 proposal, let's see what that is like, let's see what ours is like and see where maybe small compromises maybe in terms of years can happen. but in erm its of programs,
these programs are absolutely needed because we don't even see a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to this pandemic. we have it to double down and double down pretty urently. >> if you are doubling down and senator manchin is saying is he not going to support the build back better act as it is now and wants to cut programs, are you worrieded that the purpose will be the enemy of the good here and you might not get anything done trying to get something perfect done? >> so remember, we've already compromised, right, from 3.5 to 75 but let's zoom out for a second. when we talk about perfect being the enemy of the good, we still need to get voting rights done. we still need to get women's reproductive rights done, immigration reform done, george floyd done, we need common sense gun laws done. i think it is important for the american people to see that these bills have passed the house. they passed the house with strong support from the democratic party andhey are stalling, sitting and dying in the senate. why is that? what senate rules are in place
like the filibuster, that stops this legislation from moving forward, and why do we have senators who are more responsive to their donors and special interests than they are to the american people? >> we will surely keep following this story and following the legislation as it moves through congress. thank you so much representative bowman. >> thank you for having me. >> >> woodruff: there was important news today for graduates and their families with the biden administration extending a pause on student loan payments. payments will not be required before may 1, and the extension will help around 41 million borrowers. meanwhile, millions of families who relied on an increase in the child tax credit are about to lose getting that extra money. stephanie sy has more about what's at stake. >> judy, the biden
administration's extended child tax credit amounted to direct payments to americans raising children that were more generous and included more poor families. estimates show nearly 10 million children are at risk of slipping deeper into poverty as the credit expires. it won't disappear entirely, but instead of getting monthly yments of up to $300 per child, americans raising children will have to file a tax return to claim the funds. the government will also reduce the amount from $3,600 $2,000 per child annually. joining me now is michelle singletary, personal finance columnist for "the washington post." welcome to the program. it's great to see. i want to first go into the student loan repayment pawses that president biden announced. it was supposed to end on january 31st, why this reversal today and how does this change things? >> well, there was lots of pressure on the president to extend it because people are still suffering.
so there was a lot of outcry from consumer advocates, obviously borrowers and people in congress who say listen, people still need this break. even though the administration said that last pause was the absolute last one am but as everyone knows, the pandemic and things are just constantly changing. and so that's why they decided hey, let's get people at leastly more months with no payment. >> okay, do you see at this point michelle blanket forgiveness of federal college loans in the offing because the president has also been under pressure by progressive democrats to do that. >> you know, i don't. i think that that is a long shot, there is so much on this list that the president needs to get through that giving people, forgiving their loans right now is probably not in the top three. so i know there are lots of people who will just holding on to t i talked to them who said
you know, i'm not going to pay mi more than i have to because i will get this loan forgiveness. listen, you need to pay those loans if youan and while in is a pause, if you haven't had a disruption in your income, i would say pay on that debt. because it's not, there is no interest, so you are going to put that money directly on the principal. so if you can afford it, go ahead and make those payments, even now. >> so do not hold out for student loan forgiveness. let's move to the child tax credit. the last direct payments were sent on december 15th. what does ta mean in coming months for families, caring for children? >> so they got half of that, the advance payment from july until december. they are going it to stop now obviously, to stop. and then they can file tax returns next year to get the rest of that unam, but what happened, what we found was that people really used that money for what they need it for, rent, food for their quids. they managed the money on a monthly basis.
when you give people some money in a lump sum, you know, during a time that they don't have these payments, they a keum date-- accumulate debt, don't pay rent, fall behind on things it is key to keep things going. and unfortunately millions of people are going to suffer. and they were working. they were trying. and you know listen, they did extend it to people with no income or low income but these are weren't people trying to suck the government dry, they really are trying, it is so important to keep this going. but unfortunately at this point it doesn't look like it is going to thap. but those families can still collect those payments when they file their return, and if you know anybody who didn't get those payments, they still can get them by filing a return in 2022. >> but michelle, as you know, there are millions of american families that don't make enough money to file those tax returns, what are they facing without these monthly checks? are we going to go back to the beginning of the pandemic when
we were seeing long lines with children and families at food banks? >> well, they're still eligible for these payments. so you get, like i sayif you didn't get them for july, didn't know they were going to file, a lot of community groups are trying to let people know that if you had low income or no income, are you still eligible to get those payments. you just have to file a return. now if there is not those monthly payments kicking in, are you absolutely right, more people are, unfortunately, you know, there are going to be kids that will go to bed with no food. there are families that are going it to worry about the roof over their head. that is rule. and the pandemic showed that we have a country of haves and have-nots. and the have-nots were already on the edge. and the pandemic just pushed them over. and now they're still trying to climb up wile we are still going through a surge in covid. and unfortunately, they are going to suffer. >> i feel your passion for this, especially awe head into the
holiday season here. and those families always face so many more expenses during the holidays. the build back better plan as you know, michelle, is stalled largely because democratic senator joe manchin opposes keeping the child tax credits, the extended credits in their current form. how do you think that plays out? do you think some form of this guaranteed income for families will remain in tact in the end? >> i don't. i wish, i mean it is the holiday and you want to be happy and upbeat and want things to happen. the senator, one of the key reasons why he doesn't want it is because he wants a work requirement. with the expanded money, it extended to people with no income or low income where before you had to have a threshhold of income. but look, if you can't work at a restaurant because it's closed down or your factory closed down or someone in your household is sick from covid, even if they had gotten the vaccination, what do you do?
and so while we're wagging our fingers at why aren't you doing better, this was a way to make sure that people at least have the bare minimum. and oftentimes those people who are taking care of those children are grandparents. i should know. i was raised by my grandmother. and so they, you know, they are on a fixed income taking care of these kids. anit is very important that we continue what happened with these advanced payments. families use the money for what needs to be used for. >> michelle single tear, personal finance columnist at the "washington post," thank you for sharing your perspective on the newshour. >> thank you. >> woodruff: one year after
by nearly foo years since 2019. 2020's death toll from all causes including but not limited to covid marked a 17 percent spike from the year before. totaling nearly 3.4 million people. and covid has become the country's third highest killer. behind only heart disease and cancer. this comes as hospitals are reporting overwhelmed this comes as hospitals are reporting overwhelmed i.c.u.s and staff pressed to their limits. for a closer look, we turn to dr. adnan munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at the henry ford health system based in detroit; and dr. craig spencer is an emergency medicine physician and director of global health in emergency medicine at columbia university medical center in new york.
and we thank both of you for joining us. dr. munkarah, to you first. henry ford health centre in detroit, how is your hospital doing right now compared to earlier in the pandemic? >> judy, the past few weeks we have seen a significant-- of the number of cases that we had, unfortunately detroit is now the fourth surge and started seeing the numbers climbing up in mid july, august, it was slow but in the past few weeks the numbers exceeded what we had seen in the spring of 2021. so our emergency department, our hospitals including our intensive care unit have been functioning beyond capacity. we have patients waiting in the emergency department to be able to get a bed in the icu or transferred out of the emergency department. so we have been suffering significantly in our community. >> woodruff: how are you dealing with this, as you say, stretch beyond capacity.
are people simply waiting or are you having to send patients elsewhere? >> unfortunately, there is no other place to send them. because across our region, across our state,-- as i discuss with our leaders there is no place to send them. so we are trying to maximize our capacity, opening certain areas that were not scheduled to be-- areas for in-patient covid. and one of the areas that used to be a preop area, we had to put beds to admit patients and to render care to these patients, swe have had to postpone and cancel surgeries in order for us to create cas paity for patients in the emergency department as well as to create beds in the hospital. >> and i want to ask you about that. what percentage of these patients have omicron, do you know? and what portion of them, proportion of them are
unvaccinated? >> so first i will start with the unvaccinated, because this is data that we have. we have consistently running 75 to 80 percent of our patients in the hospital are unvaccinated. and in the intensive care, about 85 to 90 percent of patients are unvaccinated. with respect to omicron, we are starting to test right now, both in the state as well as our institution. i don't have these numbers but we know the omicron numbers are rising rapidly across the nation. >> woodruff: and i want to turn to you, dr. spencer, in new york. because you have been writing about the stress that all of this has meant fo staff. so what does omicron look like right now? where you are in new york, and what about the stress it is putting on people who work in the health care secretarier? >> inknows in the past really two days and weeks, we have seen a drmatic uptick in the number
of omicron cases here in new york city. we were already dealing with hospitals and emergency departments that were really overfull, where staff were stretched, where space was already limited. this was true before the pandemic here in new york, that was worse than exacerbated by the pandemic itself. and over the past few days with more and more people getting sick, more people coming to the emergency room, thankfully the overwhelming majority, you know, with cost and colds and appear to be mild cases, it is still putting a lot of stress on our hospitals and health care workers, many of whom themselves are testing positivek finding themselves sick in the past few days, meaning that takes them out of service for seven to ten days, others are called to come in and cover their shifts. or you know, maybe we don't have the same number of providers that we normally would to take care of the same number of patients. >> woodruff: so how you are managing, dr. spencer, given all of this. >> health care workers across the country are being to continue to show up to work.
until the day that they are not, right. we've seen a lot of nurses have left the profession. we've seen a lot of doctors. a lot of physician assistants, respiratory tech, others who have really weathered this pandemic and didn't expect to be doing this two years in who eventually gave up or were burned out. and as i wrote in the atlantic yesterday, there is no new fuse you can use to fix a broken sirt, we don't have the strength, we are exhausted, we're tired and there is not enough of us to provide the care that is currently needed or will be needed, even if a small number of omicron cases comes into our hospitals and into our icu's. >> woodruff: and dr. munkarah, back to you in detroit, you mentioned that staff are being strained. what are you seeing there? >> well, we are frustrated because i feel many of these hospital sphwhraitions can be prevented if more people get
vaccinated. and this is the most frustrating part por people. and as i'm talking to, and i made rounds today, unfortunately we are seeing sick patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s, needing to be on ventilators and losing some of them. and the majority are unvaccinated and there is nothing harder for a health-care provider to see somebody who their live could lose their live for something that could be prevented with a vaccine, with a treatment that is easily available to all of us. so we are working with our staff. >> woodruff: and that is a message we've been hearing every day from the white house. today at the white house covid briefing dr. spencer, one of the pieces of news we heard, the good news about a pill to treat covid, all hoe it will take time to get it manufactured in sufficient numbersk but not so good news about the monoclonal antibodies that are used to treat people once they are sick. z how is that bit of information going to affect your ability to work with people. >> that is a great question.
here in new york city there is a lot of angst and a lot of people are quite worried. but again there is not march 2020. at that time we were inundated. the hospitals really cleared out for everything but covid patients. we didn't have a lot to offer patients at that time other than our great supportive care but we didn't have treatments, we didn't have vaccines, all the thingses we have now. we do have a lot of clinical trials that tell us how to improve the survival dramically of severe covid patients, we have vaccines as dr. munkarah pointed out, have kept the overwhelming majority of people out of our hospital, thankfully, even if there is a lot of them. and the monoclonal antibody news is indeed bad news because we know that the monoclonals that may work are already in short supply and haven't been distributed but the news today that the fda is authorizing the packs loveid, the medication-- paxlovid, the medication from pfizer should be helpful. it will be a limited supply at first but it had a dramatic impact on keeping people out of the hospital.
that is one of the things that we have been is to date, not a treatment in the hospital, not a vaccine, but something sphoor for people who get sick to keep them out of the icu's. the challenge will be scaling it up, making sure people are able to get a diagnosis, get a test and get those medications from the pharmacy in the first five days of that illness where it has been shown to be very effective. >> dr. munkarah, on that question of the pill and the monday clonal bottee treatment, how much of a difference do you think this can make and frankly, you know, when i hear you say staff being frustrated, working with people who have not been vaccinated, how hard are you having it to work to keep staff at it? >> you know, we are really grateful to great staff who have been permitted to drive the best care they can for our patients but after being there for a few months at the present time and after didding it time after time
after time, can i tell you everybody is-- we are working with them closely, to thank them for what they are doing. and this is so uplifting to see the smile on their face. i agree that it is disthracting for us because we have been giving 700 to 800 doses per week to make sure our patient and our community is out of the hospital so they need need the care and to be in the intensive care unit, and occupying, we are hopeful that we canrovide some relief and are really hoping that the monoclonal antibodies become more available to continue to provide these in the outpatient. we need to keep our patients out of the hospital. because it is not only affecting our staff it is also affecting noncovid patients from getting the care they need to get. patients who have cardiac
disease, advanced cancer, had a bad stroke, we don't want them to sit out there and avoiding coming to the hospital for health care. >> dr. adnan munkarah, dr. craig spencer t is so clear that you both very much have your hands full and we appreciate your taking time to talk with us today. we wish you the very best in the days to come. thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: one year after vaccines were first made available, the vaccination rate for black americans lags significantly. in this report, kaiser health news correspondent sarah varney looks at the hard process of changing minds. >> reporter: each morning, after anthony williams opens his
barbershop in hartford, connecticut, he gladly offers a steady stream of opinion with his hair cuts. >> you know what they say, "having kids is like having a best friend with no money.” >> reporter: but these days, much of the talk centers on covid vaccines. > jordan, you had to get vaccinated for school, right? >> reporter: for nearly a year, williams shared his deep skepticism about the vaccine with his customers, pointing to unfounded anti-vaccine youtube videos. >> a lot of people say long-term effects. everything was happening so fast. the news drove fear. i don't generally take headache medicine, pain medicine myself. so, it was the unknown for me. >> reporter: williams and his wife anicka run a local juice bar and have five children. in august, their 16-year-old daughter layloni asked to get vaccinated so she could go back to school without worrying.
>> reporter: although anicka was also wary of the vaccine, she decided to get vaccinated alongside her daughter. but anthony still didn't budge. >> i feel like we respect each other's bodies, and what we feel like we put in and out. and i think just having those conversations up front and forward in the beginning, and his opinions, and his reasons why he didn't was very clear, and mine were too. >> reporter: then, in november, anthony's' mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and rushed into surgery. the hospital wouldn't let him visit because he was unvaccinated. ( fake screaming ) that was the push he needed. ( laughter ) >> you see daddy getting the vaccine? that was my first time covid smacked me in the face, like ha- ha, you can't go see your mom. and i had to go do it. and that wasn't even a decision. all the combative arguing we did. it was just quick, that happened on friday, i was vaccinated sunday. >> reporter: after months of
mass vaccination sites and drive through clinics, this is the effort now-- block by block. >> it is predominantly populated >> reporter: t.j. clarke, who works in public health in hartford, says that is especially true in black communities where vaccination rates often trail those of whites. how many miles divide west hartford and north hartford? >> only a few miles. >> reporter: clarke is also majority leader of the city council. he says hartford has a long history of racial and economic divisions. here in northeast hartford, life expectancy is 15 years lower than in west hartford center, where upscale homes and prosperous shops signal the majority white neighborhood. in connecticut, 75% of whites have received at least one dose, but only 59% of blacks. in ts neighborhood what would you expect the vaccination rate to be? >> 80-85/90% of the population of west hartford would be deemed
as fully vaccinated. >> reporter: and what accounts for that? is it just less access? people here in west hartford have better access to getting the vaccine? >> access is tremendously better, it's a thousand times better. and then because you do have people who are paying attention, they are hooked up to their devices, they seem to have some type of insight from some of the industry professionals, as well. >> reporter: although nationwide the racial divide has narrow in recent months, large gaps persist between blacks and whites. in florida, north and south dakota, vermont, michigan and in connecticut. it's been a year since covid vaccines became available, but the vaccination gap between blacks and whites here in connecticut remains one of the largest in the nation. hartford's community leaders have been trying to perfect their message for months, but they are still trying to crack the code. >> reporter: keith grant, the senior system director for
infection prevention at hartford healthcare, has tried one approach after another. for one effort, he surveyed about 1,200 patients, and many responded that lack of transportation was the reason they didn't get vaccinated. so, hartford healthcare spent $1.4 million to set up a rideshare program. the results were disappointing. so, they told you we need transportation, you delivered transportation, and less than 20% took you up on it. >> less than 20% took us up on it. >> reporter: why do you think that is? >> that's one of our biggest challenges. for some individuals, they still didn't really believe in the vaccine, or believe in the actual process itself. >> reporter: grant says there have been wins, but understanding the losses is critical. >> because losing, unlike many things in business and healthcare, you know, losing is not just the metrics now, it's like people. these are actual people. >> reporter: now grant is moving well beyond the hospital campus, working closely with those who can influence the black
community. that includes pastors michael bailey and leroy bailey the third at the first cathedral, one of the largest black churches in the area, and brandon mcgee, a democratic state representative. the church is already hosting vaccine clinics like this one. but these men are trying to untangle the my reasons black residents aren't getting vaccinated. >> folks are struggling, and some of the immediate needs like food, shelter, access to healthcare in general, that's at top-of-mind. so, when you begin talking about you want me to go get tested, you want me to figure out this vaccine and i'm reading on the news what's happening, i'm confused. i just need-- >> food on the table. >> get sick because i've got to deal with all these other issues. i don't have time. i think one of the main problems is that people are scared. that's real. how do we get fear out of
people? and i think that's an issue especially in our community. >> reporter: mcgee says his constituents tell him all the time that they distrust the government because of cases like the tuskegee syphilis study in which government researchers deliberately withheld treatment for poor black men. but he says this is a different moment. >> we were tested on. so, i hear you. i hear you. but now we have an opportunity as a community, as leaders, to turn that page, and say, "look, if you want to be healthy, you want to live, you might want to be vaccinated.” >> reporter: of course, the black community is not monolithic. and many black americans have been vaccinated. >> 70 people came out? >> reporter: jamaican immigrant donna trowers-morrison asked her pastor at north united methodist church to urge parishioners to attend a vaccine clinic she
organized. it was a huge success. hartford has a thriving caribbean immigrant population that trowers-morrison says has a different history. >> as a caribbean people, accept the system more just because we weren't a part of the history of what happened in the past. >> reporter: but tough work remains. at anthony williams' barbershop, he's been taking a lot of flack for changing his mind about the vaccine. >> i am not a sellout! this is crazy! >> you are a sellout! >> i am not a sellout, bro! >> what happened? >> reporter: this man, taj gibson, says there's nothing willms can say or do to convince him until the vaccine has been out longer. what would it be for you, if you had to put a number on it? would it be after a year, after two years? >> 3-5 years. >> reporter: and so, what do you make of the millns and millions of people that have gotten the vaccine, and have been okay?
>> everybody is different. everybody's individual body is differen >> reporter: it's been quite a journey for williams. he's had a change of heart-- not only about the vaccine's safety, but also what he now sees as his responsibility to convince others. he's working on them one at a time. for the pbs newshour and kaiser health news, i'm sarah varney in hartford, connecticut. >> woodruff: in ethiopia, a civil war that's been raging for more than a year seems to be entering a new phase. rebel forces from the tigray region are relinquishing areas seized from federal control, but the government of president, abiy ahmed, says it is skeptical of the rebels' ultimate goals. as ali rogin reports, the
conflict may be evolving, but peace remains elusive. >> reporter: in this tigray marketplace, the scars of ethiopia's air war are everywhere. a tigrayan channel shows survivors carrying away victims. the injured receive treatment. officials show what they say is shrapnel. >> ( translated ): drones attacked the market and killed more than 38 people and more than 80 people were injured. >> reporter: drones like this turkish model are new to the ethiopian conflict and they've given the upper hand to prime minister abiy ahmed's government and his allies over fighters loyal to the tigray people's liberation front, or t.p.l.f. johnnie carson is a former assistant secretary of state for the bureau of african affairs. he's now an advisor to the united states institute of peace, a think tank founded by congress. >> up until three weeks ago, the t.p.l.f. was making a concerted
advance, moving southward towards the capital of addis ababa. but in the last three weeks, the introduction of drones, drones supplied largely by the united arab emirates, turkey and iran have given the ethiopian military an advantage on the battlefield. >> reporter: the crisis began more than a year ago when tigrayan forces who used to run the country attacked a federal outpost. federal forces and their allies from neighboring eritrea, and the amhara region, waged a scorched earth campaign and occupied parts of tigray. but in late june, tigrayan forces pushed federal ethiopian soldiers out... and kept going, from tigray into neighboring amharra and afar... and on toward the capital addis ababa. but abiy's forces pushed back. bolstered by drones, they recaptured towns under tigrayan control. these images purportedly show
ethiopian military trucks in amhara in early december, about a month after the tigray incursion. >> ( translated ): we said "ethiopia won't be defeated" because we relied on you. most of the areas in amhara, as well as all of afar, have been freed. we will continue the same with the remaining places. >> reporter: tigrayan forces now say they are in retreat. in a letter the united nations sunday, t.p.l.f. leader debretsion gebremichael said he ordered an immediate withdrawal of troops outside tigray's borders. he said he hoped it would be a“ decisive opening for peace.” but so far, the ethiopian government has rejected the overture. >> the current noise with regards to whether it's a strategic retreat or not will inevitably reveal itself. >> reporter: carson says he believes abiy is more focused on a decisive military victory against the tigrayans. >> he regards the tigrayans as
terrorists, as individuals who have undermined the stability of the state. i think he probably if he has the chance, he will seek to destroy them. >> reporter: meanwhile, civilians continue to suffer the most. a november united nations report detailed atrocities committed by all sides, including executions, violence against women and the destruction of property. and the international community accuses the ethiopian government of a siege against tigray. the u.n. says tigray has received only 12% of needed humanitarian aid since july. last week, the united nations high commissioner for human rights tasked a group of human rights experts to spend the next year investigating further. >> our office continues to receive credible reports of severe human rights violations and abuses by all parties. >> reporter: the ethiopian government rejects the new probe.
>> i would like to reiterate that my government will not cooperate with any mechanism that may be imposed on it. >> reporter: but carson said now is the time for the international community to put more pressure on the ethiopian government. >> this is a critical moment in this process. and if there is any delay in moving forward, we could see greater violence, greater bloodshed and a greater humanitarian problem emerge. >> reporter: now, with tigrayan forces retreating and resetting in their home region, there's little to stop abiy and his forces from following them. for the pbs newshour, i'm ali rogin. >> woodruff: artists have often used different media to draw attention to global events. special correspondent mike cerre
looks at how art can be a source of reflection for both those looking at the works, and those in the works themselves. it's part of our arts and culture series, "canvas." >> reporter: graphic portraits of recent asylum seekers on a barge silently floating past new york's statue of liberty. and on san francisco bay, past angel island, the ellis island of the west. visual artist shimone attie's floating electronic canvas is as much about engaging people in the current refugee crisis as it is about getting them to reflect on it. >> the common theme in my work is usually to give voice to under-told underrepresented histories, marginalized communities, those who have been dispossessed, those who have been persecuted. >> reporter: from projecting images of displaced shops in what once was berlin's jewish quarter before world war ii... >> in the case of that particular installation, first, let me say that hebrew bookstore was located precisely there. that was 1930, that photograph that i projected.
>> reporter: ...to lightboxes highlighting the ongoing tensions between and uprooting of palestinians and israelis in the israeli occupied west bank. >> the cityscape overall in the distance, or the, or the natural landscape in the distance, is part of the canvas as well. >> reporter: visual artist shimone attie relies on a variety of media and public art to draw attention to displaced and marginalized cultures. >> my hope is to perhaps give the audience an opportunity to have a new experience to experience a familiar subject matter in a new way. >> reporter: a former psycho therapist, attie includes what's called “urban archaeology” to his process of recovering lost histories of people, and bringing them back into view and our consciousness through his multimedia installations. >> the reality is that much of my work does seek to articulate a shared common humanity between different groups of people. >> reporter: early in his caer, he researched the
genealogy of manhattan's lower eastside, a melting pot for italians, jewish and chinese immigrants who shared with him their stories and common experience of having to leave their original homes to start over somewhere else. >> the laser write out technique, the unseen hand, right. it's happening in real time as almost like as if a ghost is writing. and then once the entire thought or reflection is written out, then it unwrites like disappearing ink. >> reporter: you know, when people talk about the “medium being the message,” the medium of the water, the medium of an l.e.d. screen, on the water, on a barge... is that the art in and of itself? >> when you and i think media, i also think aesthetics. and i think that the aesthetics are part of the message because i'm not a politician. i'm not an activist, per se. i'm an artist. >> reporter: his video installation of a group of recent syrian refugees playing
roulette captures the uncertainty and risks they faced just weeks earlier while making their perilous crossing to europe in small boats. >> there is something about the >> reporter: as prevalent as the refugee crisis is, do you think people are kind of numb to the images of people in distress and displacement, and you need to take them outside that normal realm of the news coverage? >> definitely. absolutely. 100%. and that's the potential of our, of contemporary art: to put forward new presentations, new images, a new way of considering a familiar subject matter. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: an alliance of san francisco bay area arts and human rights organizations recently featured shimone attie's work and others focusing on immigration. an animation of an iraqi exodus in ancient mesopotamia by visual artist zena barakeh used san
franciso's tallest building for her canvas. >> water is a very amazing medium to work with. number one, it's always changing. it's fleeting. it's constantly in movement. in terms of social history, it's all. it's very often been the media for escape, immigration, immigration, fleeing for one's life, being welcomed, welcomed into a new homeland. >> reporter: the former immigration center on angel island in san francisco bay was everything but a welcoming place for asians migrating to california after the gold rush. now a museum, some of them were initially interned in these holding barracks-- some for nearly two years, until they could complete a complicated sponsorship process. >> i respond to places and spaces and architecture and tangible concrete locations that i can touch and that i can move
my own body through. so, i-- the sense of place is very important in my work. >> my name is sergei and i'm originally from kazakhstan. >> my name is niurka mendez. i'm here because i fled my country of venezuela. >> reporter: the 12 refugees from seven countries featured in the nightwatch installation had recently been granted asylum in the u.s. the refugees' video portraits by intention were designed to draw more attention than sympathy. >> i try to avoid handing over the emotional goods in a, you know, simplistic kind of way, which will make the viewer feel either sympathetic or empathetic or pull away or frightened. >> reporter: like in a gallery, his floating exhibit in very public spaces was viewed in collective silence, leaving each person to reflect on the images, and what they represent. >> i'm looking at you. you're looking at me, i'm
looking at you. you're looking at me. and each viewer makes their own meaning from that experience. >> one of those rare moments when political art and just stunning aesthetics come together in a way that's so powerful. >> reporter: we're living through probably the greatest refugee crisis since world war ii, over 80 million people displaced or refugees. this issue is not going away, but do you think your art will continue to focus on this? >> i do. i tend to respond to the issues that i care most deeply about, and i... i don't think that i'll start caring less about helping those that are most in need. >> reporter: photographs of shimone attie's refugees installations are on display in san francisco and new york galleries. for the pbs newshour, i'm mike cerre in san francisco.
the supreme court agreed it hear challenges to the biden administration vaccine mandate for large employers and health care workers. and that is the newshour for tonight, i'm judy woodruff, for all of us at the pbs tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, please stay safe and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no-contract wireless plans, designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find a plan that fits you. to learn more, visit www.consumercellular.tv. >> johnson & johnson. >> bnsf railway. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
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