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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 19, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm PST

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tonight new warnings about the rapid rise in covid cases just days before christmas more states hitting record highs. some schools going remote this week. the nba canceling five more games. "snl" forced to put on a show with few cast members and no audience. new lockdowns in europe as public health officials here warn it may get worse. >> we are in for a world of trouble. >> up in the air holiday travel set to hit pandemic highs this week as many question whether they should go at all. what you need to know to travel safely or change your plans without losing money. the mad scramble
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to buy at home tests ahead of the holiday. stores in many areas completely sold out. why are there so few available? a major setback for president biden. a key democratic senator announces he will not vote for the build back better plan. >> i can't get there. this is a no. >> reporter: the whitehouse firing back. will your packages make it there? the new report card on the big three carriers. who is delivering on time this holiday season? and the final shipping deadlines in the days ahead. plus, tiger is back in red and back in the game. the new record he and his son just set. >> this is nbc "nightly news" with kate snow. good evening. in some ways it feels like an awful dejavu. march of 2020 all over again. businesses, entertainment, sports shutting down amid rising covid cases, long lines to get tested. but it's worth remembering how much has changed. we have vaccines and boosters now, treatments and other
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tools to mitigate risk and lessen the severity of illness. still, for hospital workers already overwhelmed or for many of us trying to make decisions about how to spend the holidays, the spread of the omicron variant is not good. we are all working off incomplete information from public health leaders on down. we're going to do our best tonight to walk you through what we do know to help you make decisions. we begin with kathy park in the new epicenter of this search right here in new york city. >> reporter: tonight the holiday rush taking on a whole new meaning. people waiting in long testing lines around the country ahead of family gatherings. this as the nation's top doctors issue warnings about the weeks ahead. >> we are in for a world of trouble i'm afraid in the next month or two. it is just, you know, raging through the world really. >> reporter: late tonight democratic senator elizabeth warren announcing she tested positive for covid despite being vaccinated and boosted. tweeting she is only
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experiencing mild symptoms. covid disrupting the world of sports and entertainment, too. the nba announcing tonight it is postponing five games the next three days as cleveland, orlando, philadelphia, and brooklyn all battle covid outbreaks. the nfl already said it is delaying three games for the first time this season after more than 100 players tested positive. and the nhl says it will postpone all cross border games through december 23rd. covid infections are climbing to new highs in places like new york, massachusetts, and washington, d.c. all now at daily levels that haven't been seen since january. as omicron sweeps the nation, delta still shattering records with front line workers bracing for the next wave. >> mid november we had 12 in-patient active covid cases. it looks like today we are up to 40 active cases. >> reporter: it's getting worse in europe. officials are cracking down with tough restrictions to curb the spread. the netherlands back in a full lockdown
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until january 14th. denmark shutting down public venues. ireland enforcing an 8:00 p.m. curfew. back in the state covid is stealing the spotlight, shutting down miami's jingle ball concert. >> where is everybody? >> reporter: while "saturday night live's" last show of 2021 featured a smaller cast, no musical performance, and no live audience. >> covid came early this year. >> reporter: with no signs of omicron slowing down, public schools from maryland to new jersey now moving back to virtual learning. as nyu, princeton, cornell, and harvard all go remote at least through the rest of the year. soaring infections fueling covid fears and dimming the holiday spirit. >> kathy joins us live from new york city. one of the big questions here will times square the new kathy? >> reporter: well, kate, with rising decision expected before christmas.
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right now the event is vaccinated. kate? >> thank you. the science of the omicron variant is still evolving. here's what we know right now. omicron is highly transmissible and spreading fast. vaccines or having had covid will not necessarily prevent an omicron infection even if you had the booster. public health officials warned there will be many breakthrough cases. scientists also feel certain vaccines still lessen the severity of illness. even if you do get sick and you were vaccinated you are far less likely to get seriously ill or hospitalized. what is still unclear, how dangerous the variant is overall. there are early signs that it may be more mild. some confidence at the very least that will not be more severe than delta. we may not know for weeks. all of that may complicate your decision on how to spend the holidays especially if you're traveling. in fact, the holiday travel sprint has already begun with airlines expecting twice the number of passengers they had
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last year. how can people travel safely? what do you do if you want to change your plans? >> reporter: the rush home for the holidays is kicking into high gear. triple-a predicts more than 100 million people will take to the roads, sky, and other form of transportation over the christmas holiday. that is up more than 30% from last year. >> we are very excited to have the whole family back together again. >> reporter: airports bustling with 2 million passengers sunday but will the quickly spreading pt last-minute changes? >> i am very concerned because the flights are full. the lobby is full. the planes are full. >> reporter: he says as omicron cases go up, bookings go down. >> you can see in the numbers that the comfort and level of confidence in traveling is dropping but not as steep as we've seen in 2020. >> reporter: the surge of cases scrambling a swath of americans' christmas time
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traditions including dan sisco. >> i found out someone in my extended family tested positive for covid. >> reporter: when he reached out to the airline -- >> they wouldn't refund my money and i was stuck with this $900 flight credit we'll likely never use. >> reporter: if you are rethinking holiday travel cancellation policies vary based on the type of ticket you purchased and your airline. several like delta temporarily removing change fees for more flexibility in the pandemic. still, the nation's top infectious disease expert with this boost of confidence for travelers today. >> if you're vaccinated and you're boosted and you take care when you go into congregant settings to make sure you continually wear your mask you should be okay. >> reporter: a layered approach keeping airports buzzing. what should people keep in mind when they arrive at their destination? >> i think the most important thing to remember is how and when to use testing to your advantage. the idea is that you want to do a test really within a few hours of meeting with
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a family or friends or folks outside of your household. >> joining us now from the l.a. area airport, what are experts saying about masks? does it matter what kind of mask you wear? >> reporter: kate, health experts say any mask is better than no mask but added n95 or doubling up face coverings will provide better protection. >> thank you. health experts are saying to be safe this holiday you should get tested before any gathering preferably the same day. that means finding a covid test but it is a challenge to get one with endless lines at clinics today and home kits sold out in a lot of areas. morgan chesky on what is behind the shortage. >> reporter: tonight from coast to coast, omicron's impact growing by the day. >> very, very scary. i definitely want to get tested more. i had a couple friends test positive. it is not good. >> reporter: the rise in cases exposing a drastic dip in testing
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availability. in new yor pharmacies have run out of at home tests. >> they are out of stock. we just came straight here. >> reporter: in maryland, long lines stretching around one clinic that went from testing 100 people a day to nearly a thousand. >> one word is discouraging. we're sad to have to be here. we are setting records not in a good way. >> reporter: even major retailers temporarily posting out of stock messages on their websites for popular test kits. some at home kits not arriving until after christmas. >> i have a nephew i'm going to see so i just would like to not give them covid. >> reporter: the cause of the shortage? a combination of demand exceeding supply. starting with the nearly dozen companies who make the at home tests. >> while capacity is increasing it is not increasing as fast as our anxiety or our need. why is that? well, manufacturers are challenged with now going from one shift a day to two to three and getting enough equipment,
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supplies, and people to manufacture the tests. >> reporter: this diagnostics expert says distribution is its own issue with supply chain woes similar to other products over the last few months. what are you telling people who don't know where to get a test? >> this is the time to not be picky. if you can get a test over the counter, terrific. if you can get a test in your doctor's office, particularly if you have any symptoms, take it. >> reporter: meanwhile, in florida -- o. >> r of mind amid the covid holiday surge. >> morgan, the president said insurance companies will reimburse you for the at home tests. is that happening? >> reporter: kate, that's right but the policy won't go into effect until next year meaning if you buy a test today you won't be getting any reimbursement.
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kate? >> all right. some tests very expensive right now at least in new york. thank you. president biden will be delivering a speech tuesday to address the omicron variant. but on top of that the white house now has another major problem. today democratic senator joe manchin effectively brought down the build back better plan by vowing to vote against it. monica alba has details on how the biden administration is now responding. >> reporter: tonight a potentially fatal blow to president biden's massive social spending and climate plan. >> this is a no. >> reporter: senator joe manchin a democratic holdout for months over the size and scope of the package closing the door on the $1.7 trillion bill in its current form. >> i cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. i just can't. i've tried everything humanly possible. i can't get there. >> reporter: the white house firing back in a lengthy, blistering statement, writing, manchin's comments are, quote, at odds with his conversations with the president this week where he
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pledged to keep negotiations going. if his comments indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position and a breach of his commitments to the president. the proposal which the democrats hoped to pass this year but ultimately punted to 2022 includes $555 billion to combat climate change as well as funding for child care, elder care, and health care. just days ago, the president was optimistic manchin would come around, saying, we will bridge our differences and advance the build back better plan. but soaring inflation put manchin's support further in doubt, leaving progressives livid sunday. >> if he doesn't have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of west virginia and america, let him vote no in front of the whole world. >> monica alba is with us now. what else can you tell us about the week ahead? >> reporter: senator manchin's staff contacted the white house shortly before
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the fox interview sunday but when biden officials tried to get in touch with the senator directly a source familiar tells me manchin declined the call and, kate, on tuesday the president will be giving an address to the nation on the omicron spike. >> all right, monica. thank you. still ahead the new report on shipping companies. super emma just about sleeps in her cape. but when we realized she was battling sensitive skin, we switched to tide hygienic clean free. it's gentle on her skin, and out cleans our old free detergent. tide hygienic clean free.
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the good news there is still time. the bad news it'll cost you. before you ship there is a new report tonight showing which carriers have been better at getting your packages delivered on time. >> reporter: the final sprint to christmas putting carriers to the test. >> this is what we do. this is our play-offs. >> reporter: a new the u.s. postal service are delivering your packages on time 95% of the time. that is up 7.5% from this time last year for usps. but for fedex, they're lagging behind at 85% down 9% from last year. overall experts say shipping companies are doing well because of more hired workers, increased hours, and expanded facilities. >> they are doing even better than previous years? >> yes. they added capacity after seeing what happened last year. >> today is my
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deadline for ordering to get things out by christmas. i've been working to get things shipped out. >> reporter: it is also thanks to more planning by shoppers. >> the consumers have helped with making deliveries on time by going and buying more items in the store which reduces the demand >> i have a lot to do but i haven't done any yet. >> reporter: even for last-minute shoppers you won't have to rely on a christmas miracle to get packages like these to your loved ones on time. shipping deadlines are quickly approaching. for the most express services on major carriers you have until thursday or even friday, christmas eve, but it'll cost you. to send a pair of shoes overnight across the country? act now. some carriers are charging over a hundred dollars. the race now on to get last-minute gifts under the tree. >> a hundred dollars to shipe s. military is fighting drones with drones. it is who is controlling them that has some critics concerned.
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now to an nbc ex-clievs, a behind-the-scenes look at new technology to fight back against drone attacks now considered a major threat to u.s. troops. nbc news national security and pentagon correspondent reports. >> reporter: they're the newest threat on the battle field, small drones often armed, capable of evading air defense systems, at times with deadly consequences. small drones have become one of the biggest threats to the u.s. military. the reason? they are really hard
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to stop. >> hey, good hit. >> reporter: nbc news got an exclusive look at one system the u.s. military is already using to protect troops in war zones and it can operate with very little human involvement. this is lattice powered by artificial intelligence it defects possible incoming threats from miles away. immediately gathering and processing information from a network of radars, cameras, and radio frequencies and, unlike older systems, identifying exactly what the threat is in real time. >> this might be hard for the human eye. it is relatively straight forward to a computer. >> reporter: lattice can determine whether something is a threat and launch a modified racing drone to get a closer look on its own. in this demonstration the white zone is the enemy and the black drone is the interceptor. the interceptor drone is launched, locked on
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to the suspicious vehicle, and is now saying to the user this is suspicious. do you want me to take out this incoming threat. >> that's right. with just one button the user can give the interceptor the command clear to attack. now the interceptor is going to accelerate into the target from beneath and destroy it. >> reporter: the incoming threat is gone. >> right. >> reporter: the system can actually attack an incoming drone on its own without a human being giving the command. >> 99% is done in lattice our a.i. operating system. let robots do what robots are good at. >> reporter: unlike other counter don't systems lattice doesn't need wi-fi. it is all powered by solar energy. there are concerns about the growth of artificial intelligence and computers making critical decisions in conflict. >> it does raise important questions about where is this going, what ultimately keeps humans still in charge of the use of force? >> reporter: fewer war
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fighters involved. courtney kube, nbc news, apple valley, california. some good news from the world of sports. tiger woods finished strong in his first return to professional golf this weekend and he got a major boost from his son charlie at the pnc championship. together they made 11 consecutive birdies. that is a record for the tournament. team tiger came up slightly short finishing second. it was tiger's first time back in the spotlight following his near fatal car crash back in february. another record today. this one at the box office. >> you're struggling. >> reporter: "spam no way home" has become the third top movie opening of all time bringing in $253 million across north america this weekend, a record for any december release ever and a much needed boost for theaters struggling with low attendance during the pandemic. e when w who's on it with jardiance? we're 25 million prescriptions strong.
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this is good muse tonight about spreading holiday cheer and the santa who is teaching others just how great it feels to give. >> who likes to draw pictures? >> reporter: while the elves are busy at the north pole -- >> well follow me in. >> reporter: -- this santa is busy at his north ridge workshop beard. i just felt that was probably the first sign of the calling. oh, lots of happy faces here. >> reporter: a professional contractor on the side, he's been helping others during the holidays for more than a decade. >> isn't that fun? >> yes. >> reporter: but officially started the red sled santa foundation almost two
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years ago. the nonprofit aims to create a meaningful christmas by providing gifts and financial assistance to families in need. >> if i can bring just a little sparkle of love and happiness and keep the magic of christmas alive i'm going to keep doing it. >> reporter: this year he opened his workshop to the community, a chance for others to help. >> well, hello. >> reporter: inviting groups like the young adult club from the inland valley downes syndrome association. >> you are all in junior elf training today. >> reporter: showing volunteers how to make toys. >> very good. now let's tie a knot. >> reporter: giving them a sense of purpose and pride. >> perfect. for teaching a child to make something from their own hands from their own heart and that makes it even more special. this is the fun part. are you ready? >> yes. >> reporter: for elves like brooke beard the opportunity to make and help give out these gifts is a joy. >> i couldn't wait. >> you have good stuff in here, too. >> reporter: a special day for their parents,
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too. >> we are just excited to be here. excited for our kids others. ♪ rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose ♪ >> reporter: so far the red sled santa foundation has donated nearly 7,000 toys. >> all kinds of fun stuff. >> reporter: this group also offering a donation, helping santa make smiles for many more. >> this is a donation from our group for you so you can go help some more children. >> oh, this is so wonderful. >> reporter: sharing the true meaning of christmas. >> santa doesn't come down from the chimney. he comes from the heart. >> reporter: all year long. >> now, you're official santa's helpers. >> and this santa says he hopes to grow the red sled santa foundation into a national movement. that is nbc "nightly news" on this sunday. i'm kate snow. for all of us here at nbc news, stay safe, have a great night.
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