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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  November 28, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm PST

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tonight drastic action across the globe as the newly named omicron variant spreads. president biden holding an emergency meeting with his covid task force. restrictions on travel from eight african countries to the u.s. starting within hours. public health officials prepare for what may come next. >> it certainly shows the signs of being able to spread quickly. >> chaos at airports around the world as the variant is being identified in more countries including canada. israel is closing its borders to foreigners. morocco halting all incoming flights. in south africa, the doctor who first
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treated patients with omicron advising calm. >> currently there is no reason for panicking. >> how dangerous is it? we have the latest on the search for answers. the great return. millions of travelers taking to the roads and skies today on track for a new pandemic record. biggest cyber monday ever is what analysts are predicting ahead of tomorrow's online bonanza. this year the deals are harder to find. what you need to know. facing her accusers the woman charged with helping jeffrey epstein abuse teenage girls in court for her trial tomorrow. and the moment a bride who is paralyzed walked down the aisle. the groom breaking down in tears. good evening governments are moving quickly to limit travel into their countries in an attempt to slow the spread of the new covid variant called omicron. canada announced it
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has identified cases and the u.s. begins restrictions on travelers from some african countries just hours from now. president biden held an emergency meeting with his top public health officials today to plan for what is next. the science isn't coming into focus quite as quickly. researchers warn there is a lot to be worried about but also a lot to learn like whether omicron is more dangerous than previous variants and if vaccines are effective against it. we have coverage from here in the u.s. and overseas tonight as we try to make sense of it all and begin with gabe gutierrez in new york. >> reporter: tonight with the holiday travel season already under way, the u.s. is bracing for the new omicron variant. new cases just confirmed in ontario, canada late today. president biden meeting with members of his covid-19 response team and chief medical adviser dr. fauci. >> clearly, giving indication it has the capability of transmitting rapidly. that is the thing causing us to be concerned but also to
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put the pressure on ourselves now to do something about our preparation for this. >> reporter: tomorrow new u.s. travel restrictions for foreign visitors from south africa and seven surrounding countries take effect. american citizens and lawful permanent resident are exempt. today public health officials trying to contain not just the variant but fear. >> there is no reason to panic but a great reason to go get boosted. >> reporter: today officials spoke with their south african colleagues. this doctor was one of the first to sound the alarm. >> currently there is no reason for panicking as we don't severely ill patients. it started with the younger generation and the most predominant criminal complaint is severe fatigue for one or two days. >> reporter: authorities say it is too early to know whether the u.s. will need to impose new lockdowns or mandates to fight omicron. air travel can
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continue to be safe if protocols are followed. with covid cases already rising in the u.s. demand for tests spiked last week ahead of thanksgiving. one of the nation's largest labs says it should be ready for the holidays. the pcr test does detect the new variant. >> at least on the diagnostic testing side we should be well prepared to handle it. >> gabe joins us now. what are we learning about president biden's meeting today? >> reporter: hey there, kate. what dr. fauci told the president, it will likely be two weeks or so before we get more information on this variant and the transmissibility and severity of it. but, he added, existing vaccines will likely provide at least some protection against the virus, kate. >> gabe, thank you. the extreme global measures to keep the new covid variant from crossing borders got even more drastic today with one country now keeping everyone out. raff sanchez reports from israel.
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>> reporter: tonight travel chaos as countries around the world race to shut out the omicron variant. >> we are now in a race against time. >> reporter: the most drastic response in morocco where incoming flights have been halted completely for two weeks. in israel, all foreigners now barred from entering the country. these passengers some of the last to reach tel aviv before tonight's deadline, the first night of hanukah. >> just made it by a couple hours. >> just made it. >> one of the last flights to arrive before midnight. >> reporter: israeli surveillance teams will use cell phone data to track the spread of the variant. south africa's president fighting back urgently asking countries to lift all travel bans. >> these restrictions are completely unjustified. and unfairly discriminate against our country. >> reporter: as omicron continues to make its way around the world. in the netherlands, 13 cases confirmed today among passengers on
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two flights from south africa. new cases also confirmed in australia and denmark, adding to a growing list already including hong kong, italy, germany, the uk, and belgium. in south africa, stranded passengers are trying to figure out how to get home from a country cut off from most of the world. henry warren finally got a flight to the uk on thursday. >> i'm missing my kids a lot and they're missing me. i just want to get home to my family. >> so understandable. what restrictions are in place for hanukah? >> reporter: tonight is the first night of hanukah and celebrations have just begun. participants at large events need to show proof of vaccination. there are currently no plans to cancel events because of the omicron variant. kate? >> raf sanchez, thank you. let's bring in our medical contributor, and let's start with what we do know.
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according to south african scientists the omicron variant has more than 50 mutations and is likely to be more transmissible but that is based on limited data right? >> that is right. there are a concerning number of mutations against the spike protein and particularly the area that approaches to the ence the concern about increased transmissibility. >> which is part of what we don't know. it is not clear if it is more transmissible in the real world or if it will evade immunity from prior infection or the vaccine or if people will get more sick from this. dr. fauci is saying we'll know more in two weeks. everybody wants to know what is taking so long. >> all vaccine manufacturers right now are testing how effective their vaccine is against this variant. they are also doing real world analysis in south africa to answer all of these questions. unfortunately, it just takes a few weeks to get all of this data. >> is there a sense whether the vaccine will work against this or not? >> the most experts will say even though there might be a
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slight lessening of protection from the variant that the vaccines will still hold up for severe disease. >> we heard from a south african doctor they are seeing mild sicknesses. >> this is all anecdotal from south africa right now. we don't know if it will be more virulent. it will take a number of weeks to figure that out. >> dr. natalie azar thank you so much. now to our other big story today the thanksgiving holiday travel rush with millions heading home tonight. today is on track to hit a record as the busiest travel day since the pandemic began. if you traveled by car, there is some encouraging news about gas prices. catie beck reports from atlanta. >> reporter: the sunday after thanksgiving some airline executives call the super bowl of air travel. >> it is a little bit uncomfortable but it is what it is. >> reporter: a return for many came with long lines on what could be the busiest travel day of the year and since the start of the pandemic. >> we're very close to 2019 prepandemic levels.
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>> reporter: tsa says over the thanksgiving travel period spanning last friday until tonight, they expect to screen some 20 million passengers. >> i gave myself two or three hours. >> reporter: over all a day many worried would be a chaotic travel surge saw a relatively small number of cancellations and delays. weather concerns like rain showers in the northwest and snow flurries in the northeast causing only minor disruptions in schedules. mostly a concern for those hitting the road. nearly 50 million people avoiding lines at the airport but getting hit with high prices at the pump. while new figures show gas prices ticking down slightly the average cost of a gallon of gas has gone up nearly $1.30 since last thanksgiving >> i have to go take out a loan to pay for my gas. >> reporter: most travelers expected a long wait time but for some who waited months even years to see relatives it was a small price to pay. >> it was time to come see family and friends
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and not something we were willing to sacrifice. >> this is just the start of the holiday travel season. >> that's right. officials say there is going to be another surge next month around the holidays but tsa administrators say they are well equipped and staffed to handle it. that after a massive hiring campaign earlier this year to hire 6,000 new tsa agents. they say they are prepared to handle those large crowds they expect to see. >> thank you. down in atlanta from the busiest travel day in years to what may be the biggest online shopping day ever. cyber monday begins within hours and americans are expected to go big but if you expect deep discounts the experts say you may be disappointed. jolene kent with what you need to know before you log on to shop. >> reporter: all eyes are on cyber monday. after black friday served up weaker than expected spending online. >> i'm excited to shop this holiday. >> the top of the shopping list is usually clothes. >> reporter: for the first time shoppers on
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black friday shelled out less online than last year and flat lined on thanksgiving day this putting new pressure on cyber monday for retailers looking to bounce back from 2020. >> we expect over $11 billion to be spent online that day. >> reporter: cyber monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever. >> the strength of the market and economy has put a lot more disposable income into people's pockets. >> reporter: the long weekend spending spree was likely diluted thanks to many retailers offering discounts in october and november >> i started holiday shopping back in july. >> reporter: the national retail federation found 61% of shoppers started stocking up ahead of the holiday rush. that was up 10% from a decade ago. in part to take advantage of good deals amid high inflation and beat supply chain bottlenecks. >> it is harder to find specific products that you want and really hard to find discounts on a particular item really popular. >> cyber monday.
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does the shopping holiday matter? >> no question it is a big thing. a lot of people will shop online. >> reporter: at the top clothes, toys, electronics. expect to see shallower discounts thanks to labor shortages and supply chain delays. experts recommend being flexible and having a plan b and c. >> if you're not there the second it goes live you risk it >> report universal advice for stress free shopping. >> shop earlier rather than later and if you do shop past mid december you might want to opt for a more digital option like digital gift cards or subscription boxes. >> reporter: jolene kent, nbc news, los angeles. still ahead tonight the high prile famous names of wayfair's cyber monday sale is on now! score unbelievable savings with our biggest sale ever! like ge appliances up to 40% off rugs up to 80% off
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and lighting up to 65% off. plus get bonus savings with a wayfair credit card and free shipping on thousands of products. don't miss our cyber monday happening now through november 29th. only at wayfair.com.
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justice? >> reporter: maxwell faces sex trafficking charges that could land her in prison the rest of her life the prosecutor painting the british socialite turned suspect as a key figure in bringing a stream of girls as young as 14 to epstein's estate for sexual abuse. >> in my opinion, she might have been just equally as bad as he was. >> reporter: jennifer told nbc news she was 15 when epstein raped her. she won't be one of the four women expected to testify with allegations mostly from the 1990s. will we see maxwell testify? >> i don't know. there is a risk of testifying but i think they'll make it a game day decision based on how they believe the government's case has gone in. >> reporter: maxwell insists she is innocent awaiting trial from behind bars and describes it is a a living hell telling "the daily mail" i am weak, i am frail. her siblings pleading with the united nations to help get her out calling maxwell's pretrial detention unprecedented des crill nation. >> she is treated as
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guilty, been there 500 days and they are hoping no doubt the authorities that they're going to be able to put her away for 20, 30, 40, 80 years. well, let justice decide how that is going to be. >> reporter: the trial is expected to span six weeks but will likely leave a lot of unanswered questions around her and epstein's relationships with big names such as britain's prince andrew and president bill clinton and donald trump. nbc news. still ahead the rising cost of food and the tough new choices so many families are facing. plus, celebrating families are facing. plus, celebrating with song. you get more with aarp medicare advantage plans from unitedhealthcare. like $0 copays on tier 1 and tier 2 prescription drugs. ♪ wow! ♪
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of waukesha, wisconsin is at a ceremony at city hall officials lit the building blue and held a moment of silence to mark one week since six people were killed when a driver plowed through a christmas parade. seven people are still hospitalized. the city is using blue lights as a reminder to help the city unite and heal through the holiday. the fashion world lost a superstar, virgil ablo, just 41 years old but already one of the most influential designers and fashion executives in the world the founder of the brand off white. and artistic director of vitton's menswear and called a visionary for elevating every day clothing into high fashion. he died today after a two-year bat wela rare cancer. we've been talking a lot lately about the higher prices of groceries forcing really difficult choices for millions of families who count on government food assistance that is not going as far now. >> get some cereal
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. >> reporter: the later it gets in the month the further his budget has to stretch. >> if i can feed my family for 10, 12 bucks a night that works. >> reporter: the father of two boys in orange county, california lost his home and job during the pandemic. and joined snap the government supplemental nutrition assistance program previously called food stamps to help feed his family. >> you want any noodles? >> reporter: it has forced tough choices in the check out line. what is that like? >> humiliating. you got to pick and choose your battle. who am i going to upset, myself, my kid, what kid? not going to be the fulfillment of a meal. >> reporter: decisions made in these aisles go way beyond dollars and cents. staying on budget can mean the difference between fruits and vegetables being swapped out for less costly sugary cereals and processed foods. but a new boost to the snap program could
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mean less and more produce for the 1 in 8 americans who use it to feed their families. last month snap upped benefits by 25% and families get an average of $36 per person more each month. for eric and his kids it puts them at $606 a month or just over $6 blessing for us. >> reporter: the extra money doesn't go as far these days. you have more to budget with but things cost more. >> milk went up a dollar a gallon. my kids eat a lot of cereal and we do pasta a lot. milk is a necessity. but when the prices went up without the blessing of the snap going up, it was like, okay. we'll cut back on the things we used to eat. >> higher prices combined with the pandemic's continued financial fallout also means leaning more heavily on food banks to fill the gap of what snap can't cover. gregory scott runs this one in southern california. their demand for food tripled in 2020 and is likely to stay that
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way. >> we had many, many people we called newly vulnerable who had never been in line before and now dealing with food insecurity and hunger. >> reporter: now the table is set for the holidays >> i got into a spot in life where i had to bite my pride. >> reporter: eric's table fuller than it would have been. >> other men and families need to know there are resources out there. we just need to ask for help. >> reporter: nbc news, los angeles. tonight remembering a legend with song. ♪♪ crowds gathered in times square to celebrate the career of composer stephen sondheim. the broadway communities sang his songs sunday from "sunday in the park with george" and sondheim died friday at the age of 91. just ahead, a walk to remember. just ahead, a walk to remember. the iredible momncen everything you've seen me do was made possible by what you don't see. cause when you're not looking,
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there is good news tonight about breaking barriers and the love that gave one woman the power she needed to do what was once thought impossible. this is what love looks like. >> here we go. >> for this 29-year-old bride chelsea hill it meant finding the strength to walk down the aisle during her southern california wedding in september. why was it important for you to walk this one time? >> i wanted to stand eye to eye with him and confess my love and i wanted to be there heart to heart. >> reporter: these steps a surprise for groom jay bloomfield that moved him to tears.
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>> you blow me away every single day. every single day. >> reporter: jay, when you saw her can you go back to that for me? >> i got this weird flood of emotions when she walked up to me and i said something like you blow me away every single day. you are absolutely stunning. look at you. >> reporter: the emotional moment a milestone for chelsea who was paralyzed from the waist down following a car crash in 2010. when did you think, i'm going to walk down the aisle? >> i promised myself and so about two years i started figuring out how i could do this. i found these leg braces that completely make my knees lock down because i can't move them or anything and so i started training with them and i was like, okay. h this is really -- i can do this. >> reporter: chelsea's can do attitude extending to the couple's reception. where she surprised everyone again, creating an epic first dance with her dad. her life long dream of becoming a dancer on
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display with another routine she had been rehearsing for months. >> dance was giving me back so much more than i could have ever imagined. >> reporter: she is giving back, too, as the founder of the rollests a wheelchair dance group dedicated to empowering women with disabilities. breaking barriers in life and now love. >> you may now kiss your bride. >> reporter: what do you want people to take away from this? >> as far as people with disabilities don't look at us with limitations because there is so much more we can do >> i loved meeting them. for jay and chelsea their next big project, they would like to start a family of their own. that is nbc "nightly news" for this sunday night. lester holt will be back with you tomorrow. i'm kate snow. for all of us at nbc news, stay
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