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tv   ABC World News Tonight With David Muir  ABC  December 14, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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several fronts as we come on the air. tonight, breaking news on several fronts as we come on the air. on covid, this new variant and what they're seeing already in the u.s. also breaking, the contempt of congress vote tonight on capitol hill. the text messages from donald trump jr. wat he wanted his father to do during the attack on the capitol. and now the new storm after those tornadoes. first tonight, the highly transmissible omicron variant spreading across the u.s., in at least 34 states now. and what dr. anthony fauci warned today about this new variant, how quickly they're seeing it multiply. we have news on the vaccines, if they work against this, and the pfizer covid pill. the new data just in. also, that vote on capitol hill tonight. former president trump's former chief of staff mark meadows now
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facing the possibility of being found in criminal contempt of congress. and the text messages revealed from members of congress, from donald trump jr., from key fox news hosts. all urging mark meadows to tell the president to do something to stop the attack on the capitol. we're tracking that new and dangerous storm moving across the country tonight. already rescues in california, then headed for some of the same states hit by those tornadoes. ginger zee timing it out. all of this as the death toll from the devastating tornadoes rises tonight. at least 74 dead in kentucky alone, including at least 12 children. news tonight about the former football player who police say shot and killed a prominent doctor and his wife and four others before taking his own life. what tests on his brain now show. tonight, the fbi now investigating the disappearance of a cruise ship passenger who fell overboard on a carnival cruise. and america strong tonight. we are back from kentucky and so many of you asking how to help.
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and what we witnessed there already. good evening and it's great to have you with us here on a tuesday night. we are just back from kentucky and the tornado zone, where tonight, there are still more than 100 unaccounted for. now this new storm system moving across the country. they do not need this. also, that major vote on the hill tonight. we're tracking that, as well. but we're going to begin with news tonight on this new variant spreading quickly in the u.s. in fact, tonight, the cdc now saying omicron could double about every two to three days, that's what they're seeing elsewhere. right now, already in at least 34 states. here in new york, the omicron variant now accounting for 13% of cases here and in neighboring new jersey. dr. anthony fauci saying today it will for sure become the dominant strain here in the
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u.s., surpassing the delta variant. and look at the map tonight. cases of the omicron variant now discovered, as i mentioned, in at least 34 states and washington, d.c. tonight, we have learned the new variant forcing cornell university in upstate new york to issue a level red alert, moving final exams online because of a suspected spread on campus. all of this as we deal with the delta variant, as well, and this surge amid the holidays and the colder weather already here. people indoors, of course. cases up 48% in just the last month. hospital admissions up 42%. tonight here, we have news on the vaccines, how they're doing against this new variant. and also news on that promising treatment from pfizer, a new covid pill that the company says the new data shows its new pill cutting the risk of hospitalizations or death by nearly 90%, if given within three days of getting symptoms, and that it works against this omicron variant. of course, the question tonight, how soon before it's approved? abc's stephanie ramos leading us off tonight from new jersey.
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>> reporter: tonight, health officials are warning the highly transmissible omicron variant, already detected in at least 34 states, is now on track to take over the delta variant. >> it is going to be dominant in the united states, given its doubling time. >> reporter: omicron is now estimated to make up about 3% of cases nationwide and 13% of cases in new york and new jersey. >> what we're seeing in some of these other countries is doubling times of about every two days or so. so really rapid increase in the amount of omicron that's out there. >> reporter: in upstate new york, cornell university today moving final exams online after finding suspected omicron among many of the 600 covid cases detected in the last week. freshman kc winslow packing up and heading home. >> it's really scary to know that i could possibly get covid and might have to miss christmas with my family. >> reporter: hospitalizations in new york state spiking 70% since thanksgiving. >> cases are escalating.
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hospitalizations are escalating. and the number of people vaccinated is not where it should be. >> reporter: the delta variant already driving a nationwide surge. and officials fear teams on the front lines will be soon pushed to their breaking point. >> we're exhausted by the knowledge that we are the duct tape that is preventing a complete collapse of the health care system. >> reporter: health officials stress, the booster shots offer the best protection against delta and omicron. the first real world study of omicron in south africa showed that two doses of the pfizer vaccine are just 33% effective against infection, but 70% effective against severe illness. and hospitalizations linked to omicron in south africa were 29% lower compared to delta. >> the disease seems to be less severe. whether it's inherently less pathogenic as a virus or whether there is more protection in the community, we're just going to have to see when it comes in the united states. >> reporter: and tonight, the most promising news yet on
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pfizer's anti-viral weapon to treat covid. new company data showed the pills, when taken within three days of diagnosis, can cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% for unvaccinated high risk patients. >> we have a surge. we potentially have breakthrough cases as a result of the emerging omicron variant. the ability to have a pill as a second line of defense is so critical right now. >> reporter: pfizer says its five-day course of pills, which can be taken at home, could get authorization by the end of the year. another anti-viral pill from merck is also under fda review. both companies believe the pills will likely work against the omicron variant. just a year ago today, the country celebrating the first vaccine shot. but tonight, a moment of silence on capitol hill to mark another staggering milestone. 800,000 lives lost. 500,000 since those first shots. >> just an incredible toll. stephanie with us tonight.
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we know there was a cdc meeting today. health officials sort of gaming out what the omicron variant could do in the coming weeks right here in the u.s. and i know what concerns them most, even if it's less severe than delta, is the fact that it's more transmissible than delta, faster spreading, more cases and that almost always means eventually more hospitalizations. >> reporter: right, david. and there's already concern about the strain on hospitals. you heard from that doctor there saying they feel like the duct tape preventing the collapse of the health care system. and tonight, we're hearing from moderna's chief medical officer, saying that it is possible, given the rise in infections, that the potential is there for both strains to infect the same person at the same time and swap genes, giving rise to a new variant. david? >> that people could be dealing with delta and omicron at the same time. that's incredible and something we'll be watching. stephanie, thank you. in the meantime, we turn to capitol hill at this hour and the house vote on whether to recommend former president trump's chief of staff mark
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meadows be held in contempt of congress, for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee investigating the january 6th attack. meadows earlier had turned over documents, included in them, text messages from donald trump jr., from republican lawmakers, and from several fox news hosts, all urging meadows to tell the president to do something to stop the attack on the capitol. here's our chief washington correspondent jonathan karl tonight. >> reporter: tonight, in the very chamber that came under attack nearly one year ago, a vote on holding former president trump's chief of staff and former member of congress mark meadows in criminal contempt for refusing to cooperate with the january 6th investigation. >> mr. meadows is in contempt. he must testify and i urge my colleagues to vote yes. >> reporter: before he refused to testify, meadows had turned over some 9,000 documents from his personal cell phones to the committee, including urgent text
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messages from people close to trump, imploring meadows to get the president to say something to stop the violence. >> for 187 minutes, president trump refused to act. let's let that sink in, madam speaker. he refused to act. when action by our president was required, it was essential, and it was compelled by his oath to our constitution. >> reporter: one of those text messages came from trump's own son, donald trump jr. hours before the riot, he and meadows were laughing it up at the rally outside the white house. >> an actual fighter. one of the few. a real fighter. thank you, mark. >> reporter: as the violence unfolded, the president's son sent meadows a series of frantic texts. >> "he's got to condemn this [ bleep ] asap. the capitol police tweet is not enough," donald trump jr. texted. meadows responded, "i'm pushing it hard. i agree."
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still, president trump did not immediately act. donald trump jr. texted again and again, urging action by the president. "we need an oval office address. he has to lead now. it has gone too far and gotten out of hand." >> reporter: republican lawmakers also texted meadows as the capitol was under attack and trump was out of sight. >> "it is really bad up here on the hill." another one, "the president needs to stop this asap." another one, "fix this now." >> reporter: there were even some pleas from trump's allies on fox news, who would later go on to downplay the events of that day. >> it wasn't an insurrection. >> reporter: but on january 6th, a very different message from laura ingraham, texting meadows, "the president needs to tell people in the capitol to go home.
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this is hurting all of us. he is destroying his legacy." sean hannity texted, "can he make a statement? ask people to leave the capitol?" meadows is now saying he won't talk to the committee, because trump has asked him to keep everything confidential. but on the same day meadows announced he wouldn't testify, he published a book on his experiences in the white house. if found guilty of criminal contempt, meadows could face up to a year in prison, but the decision on whether to prosecute him is up to the justice department, not up to congress, and there is no indication yet whether or not doj will go forward with that, david. >> all right, jon karl tracking this vote tonight for us. jon, thank you. we are also tracking this new storm system moving across the country again. rescues already from this. and it could hit some of the very same states already dealing with the devastation from those tornadoes. tonight, the death toll. at least 88 americans dead across five states, and in kentucky alone, at least 74 dead, including at least 12 children. abc's elwyn lopez from kentucky
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tonight. >> reporter: tonight, with more than 100 people still missing, the search and rescue effort under way in kentucky. this team in hard-hit dawson springs. of the more than 70 confirmed dead in the state, 12 are children. oaklynn koon was just 2 months old. her parents taking her off life support. >> i'm going to miss her crying in the middle of the night, waking me up. i'm going to miss her, you know not wanting to be put down, wanting her daddy and mommy to hold her. >> reporter: at that candle factory in mayfield, eight people confirmed dead. the company says everyone is now accounted for. the company calling a report that an employee was threatened with consequences if they left the facility, quote, absolutely false. the governor was asked about it today. >> i haven't seen any direct accounts from the candle factory itself. that's something that obviously people are going to look at. >> reporter: one employee
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telling abc news she was not threatened, but told staying might be safer than leaving. hundreds of people were injured in the tornadoes, many of them children. hospital workers debbie hamontree and lisa pyle on duty when four brothers came in. with cuts and broken bones. all under 10 years old. >> you can still hear their cries, their screams when you're -- you know, taking care of them. >> i just rocked him. that's all i know to do. i'm a mother, so i gravitate towards those babies. >> reporter: their father, charles cooke, says two of the boys set out to find help after the family was thrown into a field more than 100 yards away. your children saved your life. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> reporter: and david, president biden will be here in kentucky tomorrow to get a first-hand look at the damage here. and the white house says to ensure that the federal government is doing everything to get assistance to impacted areas like this one as quickly as possible. david? >> all right, elwyn lopez staying on the scene there for us. elwyn, thank you.
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and as i mentioned a moment ago, that storm system moving west to east, going to hit that region again. already battering the west at this hour. flooding rain and mudslides in california's silverado canyon. people rescued from their homes today. extreme snow and wind shutting down parts of i-80. this is near soda springs, california. chief meteorologist ginger zee back with us tonight timing all of this out for us. hey, ginger. >> reporter: hey, david. more than five feet of snow already making its way through the sierra. there's still a bit left. los angeles, so parched usually, had more than two inches of rain. a daily record. but the storm is now going to turn into the rockies and beyond. going to be all about wind for millions of folks. 40 to 70-mile-per-hour gusts from the texas panhandle all the way up to the upper peninsula of michigan. so, watch for that, but also watch for record highs. we're talking about dozens of them. and not just daily records, but all-time december record heat possible tomorrow. when that happens, just like we saw last week, it's inevitable, you get severe storms. this time, i think southern minnesota, parts of iowa could
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even see tornadoes. and then that same area hit so hard, david, could see flash flooding as this front slows down. >> yeah, we know what happens when the front hits that record warmth. ginger, thank you again tonight. we're going to move onto the other news this evening and to the autopsy tonight on former nfl player phillip adams. that autopsy now revealing he was suffering from an unusually severe form of brain disease, cte, when police say he killed a prominent doctor, his wife and four others before taking his own life. here's steve osunsami. >> reporter: a medical examiner is confirming suspicions tonight and helping to answer why this former nfl cornerback killed six people, according to police, and then killed himself in april. >> be advised, we've got four down, four down inside the house. >> reporter: in the shocking mass murder, phillip adams killed dr. robert lesley, a well-known local physician. killed the doctor's wife, two of their grandchildren, and two workers outside their south
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carolina home. dr. ann mckee, who examined adam's brain, is blaming cte, a degenerative brain disease, saying this case was unusually severe, stage two. where the patient is often aggressive, explosive or paranoid. she says his brain looked a lot like the brain of aaron hernandez, the former nfl tight end who was convicted of murder and died by suicide in prison. >> we are finding some comfort in the cte results and the explanation they provide for the irrational behaviors pertaining to this tragedy. >> reporter: cte is found in people with a history of head trauma and can only be officially diagnosed when a person is dead. tonight, adams joins a growing list of former nfl players who've struggled with the disease. at the time of the killings, adams' father told wcnc in charlotte that he blamed his son's football career. >> i think the football messed him up. >> reporter: adams was just 32 years old when he died, had played in nearly 80 nfl games over six seasons, and his family says that he struggled with injuries his entire career. david? >> steve osunsami tonight. thank you, steve. tonight, we've learned the
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fbi is now investigating after the disappearance of a cruise ship passenger who fell overboard on a carnival cruise. the company confirming the woman in her 20s fell from the balcony of her room around 3:00 a.m. saturday. a broken piece of the balcony falling onto a walkway two stories below. crew members tossing life preservers into the water. her body was not found. the ship was about 35 miles off the coast of mexico at the time. when we come back here tonight, the news coming in late today involving o.j. simpson. your skin from within? dupixent helps keep you one step ahead of eczema with clearer skin and less itch. hide my skin? not me. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur, including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes, or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. ask your doctor about dupixent. ♪ you pour your heart into everything you do,
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they can. in bowling green, kitty williams holding a message, "the best place to be is together." and we went to meet the first responders, the doctors treating the victims. the smell of candles when they arrived at the hospital. >> an extra level of surreal was the smell in the e.r. because one patient would smell like christmas cookies and the other one could smell like cinnamon and it was -- it was really bizarre. >> rescuers said they could smell the vanilla candle in the air. >> yeah, that's right, yeah. at one point, gingerbread floated through the e.r. and we realized we had more patients coming in. so, it was -- >> unbelievable. >> yeah. >> those doctors did not give up. and one of the patients, jim douglas. how you doing, jim? you'll remember, he told us he was trapped at the very bottom of that twisted steel at the candle factory.
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the rescuers forming a human chain to pull him out. what would you say to them now? >> what i want to say is thank you. i mean, all of them -- i just thank every one of them, from nobody else but me. thank you, you doubt even know me and you risked your life, because it was dangerous. every one of them. and i truly appreciate it. >> and the grandmother, tina, huddled over her grandchildren, 3 years old and 14 months. and the sign on part of the wall still standing. "amazing grace." >> got to believe. there are so many people that lost their lives and i'm just thankful. that's what i tell everybody, i said, you know, we're thankful that we still have our lives. we can rebuild. >> we were so moved by their strength and we'll stay on it. good night.
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problem in the bay area, the mayor has an option. and whether or not it will work. >> mask, vaccination and distance. >> making a return at new exceptions mean the rules may not change in the bay area. >> and steph makes history. we're live with a new record he just set tonight. >> our most recent storm is winding down and the next one is already crawling in. next at 6:00 bins -- begins now. moving forward, this is abc 7 news. >> and less tolerant of all the [beep] that's destroyed our city. >> telling it like it is. if that's studied the city,
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what's going to save it? good evening, i'm ama. >> and i'm dan. every day we talk took building a better bay area it and starts with filling safe in your own neighborhood so today when we heard san francisco's mayor had a adamed plan we wanted to know more. ama: that's why we've brought there phil for some perspective as well as luce who was at the mayor's events to hear the plan first hadn't. >> it's a crisis which is why the department of emergency management will be managing this plan. mayor breed says she not only plans to tackle public concerns but also the need to get police officers access to cameras on the streets. after a week of crime throughout san francisco, today mayor london breed announced what she cat goesed as an aggressive response plan to tackle public safety. >> and it. comes to an end when


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