tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 11, 2021 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
meeting in days on booster shots for those who got the moderna and j&j vaccine. the travel nightmare. southwest airlines again canceling or delaying nearly half its flights. is it related to those vaccine mandates plus, the new showdowns over vaccines leaving some police departments worried about staffing. plus, a small plane crashes in southern california in a neighborhood hitting two homes, setting them on fire the late details now coming in. the whistleblower accusing capitol police leaders of mishandling intelligence about the january 6th riot and failing to take action how the department is responding. almost 20 million americans tonight facing severe weather warnings after more than a dozen reports of tornados in the midwest. state of emergency in puerto rico. the new crisis over its power supply and the tv legend who played "star trek's" captain kirk about to boldly go where no man at his age has ever gone before.
this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening a potential new weapon against covid-19 may soon enter the fight an anti-covid pill, not to prevent but to treat the infection in high-risk patients drug maker merck submitting its anti-viral pill to the fda for emergency use authorization claiming the drug could substantially cut the number of hospitalizations and deaths but the number of pills ordered by the government falls far short of the 67 million eligible americans who remain unvaccinated today's submission comes as covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline amid more signs of public normalcy today's return of the boston marathon just one of them. our team covering it all tonight, starting with miguel almaguer. >> reporter: now officially seeking emergency use authorization from the fda, if granted, merck's first of its
kind antiviral pill to treat covid could be prescribed to americans by the end of this year with the company saying its pill cuts hospitalizations and deaths in half for unvaccinated patients with early symptoms. the five-day regimen of 40 pills cost an estimated $700 a patient. similar to tami-flu in that it's taken at home during the early onset of symptoms. the prescribed pill would be for adults with mild to moderate cases of covid at high risk for severe disease or hospitalization. >> while this is excellent news, it's still 50%. so that means a lot of people who get infected are going to get very sick with covid-19 so it's not -- it is not a miracle. >> reporter: if authorized, merck's milestone would be a game changer but not a substitute for vaccinations the u.s. government ordered enough pills for 1.7 million americans. but 67 million who are eligible have yet to be vaccinated.
still, there are signs of progress on the front lines. new infections are down 53% daily deaths and hospitalizations are also dropping. >> i think we really can start to spike the football as we emerge into the spring. but we should stay vigilant until then, continue with the precautions we do have so we do not have any risk of a fifth surge. >> reporter: amid more signs of normalcy like today's return to the boston marathon, authorities have also said it is safe for most children to treat or treat this halloween. tonight, more steps forward in a pandemic that has offered so many setbacks. >> and, miguel, this is shaping up to be a big week for the fda they're also set to take on booster shots for moderna and johnson & johnson. >> reporter: that's right, lester. on thursday and friday, the fda's advisory panel will meet to debate boosters for moderna and johnson & johnson. of course, last month after a contentious hearing, seniors and those at higher risk
for catching covid fully vaccinated with pfizer qualified for their booster. lester >> miguel almaguer tonight, thank you. there is new chaos for southwest airlines canceling or delaying well over a thousands of flights and many more over the weekend. tonight how the faa is pushing back and what the airlines says is to blame sam brock now with the latest. >> reporter: a full-fledged travel nightmare. >> reporter: that's now at the end of day four. >> i got to get back to work. >> reporter: more than 40% of all southwest flights today delayed or canceled, affecting tens of thousands of passengers spilling into the second floor, similar scenes across the country from reno to nashville and dallas. >> they canceled twice. twice. twice they canceled. >> reporter: tonight southwest apologized to customers saying the numerous
cancellations were primarily created by weather and other external constraints which left aircrafts and crews out of position pushing back today on a similar situation that air traffic control staffing was contributing to the problem saying none have been reported since friday >> reporter: is it possible that some members of southwest and its pilots decided to sit this out because of the covid vaccine. >> there is definitely aside from atc and weather delays going on here. the unions have said no the pilots are saying no but the timing is strange. >> reporter: tonight the head of southwest pilot association responded to speculation that the airlines recent vaccine mandate is contributing to the chaos. how do you know that it is not related to what's just happened in the last four days? >> because our sick rates are right in line with where they
were this summer so it is absolutely completely false to say that our pilots are -- that this is affecting the pilots in any way the two are completely mutually exclusive. >> reporter: mandates right now at the state and federal levels are creating tension in seattle, the police department has until october 18th to comply with hundreds of officers still unvaccinated. >> they're using bully tactics to force their employees to get this. and that's what's led to this disconnect. >> reporter: sam, back to southwest and those delays, any idea when those flights might return back to normal. >> reporter: no, lester so far southwest airlines has not provided a time line for when we will see full services. but we have learned that the airlines staff runs very tightly so when there is a snag, there could be a domino effect. >> sam brock, thank you. breaking news in southern california a small plane crashed into a neighborhood today killing at least two people, two homes and several vehicles were destroyed by
fire two other people were injured. neighbors were able to pull one woman out of the window of her burning home it happened in santee, california, north of san diego. tonight scathing new accusations involving the january 6th capitol riot a whistleblower blasting the real-time response of the leadership of capitol police here's hallie jackson. >> reporter: new fall-out tonight from an explosive letter written by an anonymous former police officer describing officials responsible for the single greatest intelligence failure in the history of the u.s. capitol police, calling out senior leaders pittman and shawn gallagher specifically quote, what i observed was them mostly sitting there, blankly looking at the tv screens showing real-time footage of others a law enforcement source tells nbc news the two leaders were focussed on the evacuation of
congressional leadership. >> every day i think about the well-being of the officers. >> reporter: capitol police say although problems described in the letter have been addressed and they're committed to learning from prior mistakes. >> it's all the more reason that we need to continue to see an aggressive january 6th bipartisan commission pursue the ground truth of what happened that day >> reporter: it comes as the former president rallying in iowa this weekend hints at another run. >> we're using the same slogan, make america great again. >> reporter: and clings to the lie that triggered that insurrection, that the election was stolen, even though it was not. >> i never conceded. never. >> reporter: but state after state where the election was close conducted audits to check the vote totals. georgia even counted three times with all of it confirming again that joe biden won still, demonstrating mr. trump's hold on his party, this new dodge from a top gop leader. >> so you think that the election was stolen
>> what i said was there were states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules. >> do you think the election was stolen? >> it is states that did not follow the laws set, which the constitution says they're supposed to follow. >> reporter: gop congresswoman liz cheney in response to that moment tweeted republicans have a duty to tell the american people that claims of a stolen election are just not true lester >> all right hallie jackson, thank you. severe storms are threatening parts of the midwest tonight after at least a dozen tornados reported. 18 million are at risk from missouri up to michigan including wisconsin, illinois and indiana more severe storms expected tomorrow in the central plains five million could be affected puerto rico is under a state of emergency tonight after a wave of blackouts hit the island officials now warn the power grid is in critical condition as public outrage hits new heights. gabe gutierrez is there. >> reporter: built in the 1960s, this is one of puerto rico's outdated power plants. tonight the island's grid is in critical condition. and the bankrupt, public utility here is
under fire what do you say to people around puerto rico that have dealt with these outages for a long time? >> well, we're going to do it this time around. >> reporter: making matters worse this year is, of all things, seaweed. really seaweed? >> it was preventing the putting water to get in. >> reporter: for protesters, frustration is boiling over brenda runs a bakery near san juan. >> very frustrating. it is on a daily basis right now in puerto rico. >> reporter: how much money have you lost because of these black-outs >> i think the last week i lost like a thousand dollars >> reporter: in 2017, hurricanes irma and maria ravaged puerto rico's grid. the power generation is still their responsibility this summer a private company luma energy took over transmission and distribution why is it worse now than it was before you took over?
>> in many ways, there have been improvements in the way that people contact us, in the way that, you know, we rolled out some new digital tools. >> reporter: but the lights are still going out. >> what i say to customers every day is this will get better. >> reporter: but brenda is sick of waiting. she says she's paying 54% more for electricity than she did last year. how much longer do you think this is going to go on for? >> i really don't know but i just want it to end. >> reporter: fema has set aside nearly $10 billion to help rebuild the power grid here and in congress the house committee is now looking into the outages. lester >> gabe, thank you. in just 60 seconds the spy case involving a navy engineer and a peanut butter sandwich. and a star ship called blue origin about to take captain kirk into space for real
of hollywood a naval engineer and his wife accused of trying to sell america's nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign agent, even concealing them in a peanut butter sandwich. stephanie gosk now with the latest. >> reporter: the u.s. navy's virginia class submarine can stay submerged for months and attack fast. using highly classified nuclear technology the fbi says naval engineer jonathan toebbe attempted to sell its secrets to an unidentified country according to a criminal complaint, an fbi agent in that country obtained a package. on saturday, the 42-year-old along with his wife diane in arrested their neighbors in maryland left stunned. >> wow. it is pretty incredible it is out of a movie. >> everybody talks to everybody, except
nobody has ever really spoken to that family. >> reporter: toebbe worked with the navy since 2012 and was directly involved in naval nuclear propulsion according to court documents, he made multiple drops that restricted information believing he was selling it to a foreign spy when in fact it was an undercover fbi agent one drop included an sd card stashed inside half a peanut butter sandwich another in a band-aid wrapper. the fbi says his wife was in on the plan and acted at times as a look-out in an encrypted message referenced in the complaint, he claimed he had a cash of information including thousands of pages in schematics that were slowly and carefully collected over several years he proposed selling 51 installments for a total of $5 million in crypto currency. writing, my friend, we have both taken considerable risks to reach this point and with good luck, we will much have soon to celebrate. instead, the couple are expected in federal court tomorrow they haven't entered a plea yet, but if they are found guilty on
these espionage related cases, lester, the maximum penalty is life in prison. >> quite a story, stephanie. thank you. in west texas, high winds have delayed a blue origin rocket launch that will carry william shatner on a record-setting ride into space tom costello has more. >> reporter: on the launch pad, the countdown is on hold william shatner and three others, a blue origin employee and two paying passengers now waiting until wednesday for high winds to clear. >> in the back of my mind is jeopardy and i don't mean the quiz. >> reporter: this morning shatner admitted the delay makes him nervous. >> i don't want to be on top of a rocket in 75 mile an hour winds. >> scottie, beam us up fast. >> reporter: hard to believe captain kirk is 90 years old now. >> i'm captain kirk and i'm terrified going to space. >> reporter: his four minutes of weightlessness will make him the oldest person ever to go into space. after 82-year-old wally funk's ride in july now shatner and his team are in the simulator preparing for their 11-minute round-trip >> you are all buckled in and ready to go to space. >> reporter: the same simulator we were in last summer. what really stands out to me is just the size
of the window, and you've got six of them in here, right >> yes over a third of the surface area of the capsule are windows. >> reporter: perfect for the views shatner has been dreaming of. >> i'm going to see the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of our earth. >> reporter: but his ultimate goal -- >> the thing i really want to do is come back down. >> reporter: and beaming back to earth is out of the question tom costello, nbc news in the west texas desert. up next, we will tell you whose pockets the pandemic hit hardest and what to do if covid set you back financially.
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with the tools and resources they need to be ready for anything. i hope you're ready. 'cause we are. we're back with our series "the great divide," and the financial blow the pandemic dealt to older americans. now facing a challenging job market, empty savings accounts and far off dreams of retirement harry smith reports. >> reporter: just home from work, 71-year-old diana sanger and matthew her 29-year-old grandson with autism are out for a walk near their home in colorado when you were a younger person, diana, what were your dreams of retirement? >> well, i thought i would be in a motor home or a fifth wheel traveling the country
and living the dream now i get up every morning at 6:00 and go to work at 7:00. >> reporter: diana works not because she wants to but because she has to like almost half of the baby boom generation, she has no savings, none. during the pandemic, older workers have found they are often among the first to be let go and the last to be hired back. how hard has the pandemic been on you as a person in their 70s who still needs income >> it has been very hard but you know what it's like looking for a job when you're 70 nobody wants to hire you. all i want is a job with benefits. i would love to have paid holidays. you know, i'd love to have vacation pay, but i'm just glad to have a job. >> reporter: any job. >> yes. >> reporter: joanne jenkins heads the aarp. >> i think you see the financial divide broadening as a result of the pandemic with the rich getting
richer and those who are moderate and low income really struggling to try to make ends meet. >> reporter: and while it may seem there are help wanted signs on every corner these days -- >> we know that if, in fact, you are an older worker and you lose your job, it takes double the amount of time to find a new one. >> reporter: diana told us she often feels invisible. she prays to be seen. >> hire me i'll show up on time i'll be there every day. i won't call in. i catch on really, really, really quickly. i would be one of your best employees >> reporter: and as for those golden years of retirement -- do you think you'll ever be retire? >> i will die at my workplace. that's when i will retire. >> reporter: and she is not alone harry smith, nbc news. we'll take a break. when we come back, one woman's mission to educate girls in afghanistan.
on the international day of the girl, andrea mitchell reports on one extraordinary woman who is striving to give girls in afghanistan an education against all odds. >> reporter: the taliban takeover of afghanistan's third largest city heart-breaking for her who moved to the u.s. in 2012 and started the first computer science school for girls in afghanistan with free tuition and laptops. a school called code to inspire. >> i think what we provided was very essential, the core value of something to let these girls flourish and create an opportunity for them to work.
>> reporter: but with the taliban's victory, it all came crashing down the taliban promising to respect women's rights, but already stopping girls from going to school beyond sixth grade and closing off jobs for women like minera who learned to code at the school and asked us to protect her identity. >> i have a lot of time, but here i can't use it. >> reporter: so what are your hopes now for your future. >> i can't say nothing like that. >> reporter: okay. i'm so sorry you still have some optimism about your future. >> i think only a miracle can help afghan people. >> reporter: the school now forced underground. how did you get up and continue >> you know, life is
tough. i was like this is not the time for me to, you know, sit and, like, do nothing so she took code to inspire online using encryption to keep the students' identities secure. >> reporter: so you are continuing to educate these girls secretly behind closed doors? >> yes i'm going to create a virtual space for the girls where they feel safe using a laptop, find an internet and find them jobs online. >> reporter: can the taliban stop you >> no, they can't. >> reporter: arming the girls of afghanistan with the internet and laptops andrea mitchell, nbc news, hanover, new hampshire. that's "nightly news" for this monday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
working at recology is more than a job for jesus. it's a family tradition. jesus took over his dad's roue when he retired after 47 year. now he's showing a new generation what recology is all about. as an employee-owned company, recology provides good-paying local jobs for san franciscans. we're proud to have built the city's recycling system from the ground up, helping to make san francisco the greenest big city in america. let's keep making a differene together. ♪ i see trees of green ♪ ♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) ♪ so i think to myself ♪ ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪
i'm raj mathai. we're following breaking news. jon gruden has been forced out. we'll tell you about the controversial emails that he sent. also, a new survey shows a majority of us are thinking about leaving the bay area. is it you? we'll break down the primary reasons why and why the pandemic may be making things worse. and we are under microclimate weather alert. we'll talk about the wind and fire spots.