tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 1, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
head through the end of next week. out goes the frigid air, in comes more rain and sierra snow. clearing next weekend. >> that's all right, rob, thanks very much. "nightly news" is next. back at 6:00. tonight, new year's travel chaos at airports as millions try to get home from the holiday. more than 2,500 flights canceled today. thousands more delayed. airlines hit with a one-two punch of staffing shortages due to covid and extreme weather across the country, from snow to thunderstorms, even flooding three people now missing and feared dead after the most destructive wildfires in colorado history. nearly 1,000 homes destroyed. >> i didn't know if i was going to even make it. the record-surging covid cases. so many calling in sick, it's impacting critical services. 20% of the nypd out.
some school districts going back to remote others mandating all students get tested. is there a light at the end of the tunnel the new science of omicron some experts hope may bring an end to the pandemic sooner. >> pretty much everybody will have some immunity to this virus come this spring. no more surprises. a new law banning unexpected medical bills goes into effect today. what you need to know so you aren't overcharged. and on this new year's day, after so much time apart, we celebrate the reunions this past year that gave us reason to smile. good evening, i'm kate snow in for jose. happy new year. and on this holiday weekend there are millions of americans moving through airports after celebrating with family and friends unfortunately, a lot of them are running into delays.
not just because of the omicron variant that has sent flight crews home sick, but also because of the weather tonight. more than 2,500 flights were canceled today, and already we know about more than 1,000 flights that are canceled for sunday. snow continues through the middle of the country with the heaviest bands in the midwest and great lakes area throw in more snow, freezing rain, and heavy rain moving east tomorrow, and you have a mess on the roads too. we begin tonight with kerry sanders. >> reporter: for those traveling by air, this first day of 2022 looks a lot like the final days of last year. >> i just want to go home, at the end of the day. didn't want to kick off the new year like this. >> reporter: flight aware showing on top of canceled flights, over 3,000 delayed airline staff shortages, a result of covid, partially to blame. the flight attendants union not happy the cdc cut quarantines from ten to five days. >> maybe a short-term fix for staffing problems, possibly,
but long-term hurt as more and more people are infected and we extend the life of the pandemic. >> reporter: ted and leta burr came to florida for a seven-day vacation in the keys they've spent five more days trying to get home your first flight was canceled because of? >> covid. >> this one delayed because of >> weather. >> i've got chemo at 7:00 a.m. monday. >> so you need to get home. >> and it don't look like we're going to make it. >> reporter: traveling with five kids, especially trying with cancelations the mehlman family was to leave friday, fort lauderdale to denver, on spirit airlines after a maddening four-hour wait to talk to the airline, they rented a car, drove four hours to stay with relatives in orlando. hopefully they'll get out tonight. >> you can laugh or cry. in the worlds of marjorie p. hinckley, crying gives me a headache. >> reporter: weather making matters worse 42 million people under winter alerts. in kentucky, severe flooding leaving to
water rescues, which is why flights in and out of the region are also delayed >> kerry is with us. kerry, how much longer are these delays and cancelations expected to last? >> reporter: with the weather and covid still spreading, causing some flight crews to call in sick, the delays will be here and some cancelations tomorrow and the experts say for the coming days. kate >> all right, kerry, thank you. let's go to colorado where communities are still reeling from the most destructive wildfire in that state's history. authorities say three people are now feared dead and nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed in the boulder area. emily ikeda is there >> reporter: tonight, sobering news in colorado in the aftermath of the monstrous marshall fire three now missing. officials fear the worst. >> we unfortunately believe these are going to turn into recovery cases we're calling in cadaver dogs and search teams to help us with an effort tomorrow. >> reporter: hutch armstrong says family lost track of his
91-year-old grandmother while they were evacuating their home no word from nadine turnbull since >> they tried to go out the front door with the neighbor. it was engulfed. checked the back door, it was engulfed. >> reporter: turnbull's home among the nearly 1,000 destroyed with over 100 additional homes damaged. the fate of so many homes coming down to luck as you can see in superior, a completely destroyed neighborhood on one side of the street, untouched homes on the other >> i walked out my front door, and this is what i see. >> reporter: today with the investigation into the cause of the fire ongoing, authorities executing a search warrant at an undisclosed location as the recovery process is complicated by weather whiplash. first fire, now ice. >> the structures where these folks would be are completely destroyed and covered with about 8 inches of snow right now. so our ability to attempt to search and recover from those structures is very much impeded right now. >> reporter: residents beginning to access some charred
neighborhoods. katherine lopez narrowly escaped, abandoning her car in a mad dash for safety. was there a moment you thought, i could lose my life in this situation? >> yeah, definitely. i even told my son i loved him, i don't know if i'm going to be able to get out. >> reporter: police drove her out of the danger zone. >> it was just flames flying in the air, just -- i couldn't believe what i was seeing >> reporter: tonight, the force of nature burned into the memory of boulder >> we hope that within the next couple of days, we can help families perhaps recover remains. >> emily, it's just so awful. she joins us from superior what's the status of the fire itself at this point >> reporter: kate, officials say the snow helped tame the fire tremendously, but crews are still working to put out flare-ups. you can see the home behind me smoldering kate >> yes, we do see that, emily, thank you.
to the other big story that no one wanted to be telling in 2022, omicron is surging across the nation with no sign of slowing down employees calling in sick, not just impacting the travel industry, but also one of the largest police departments in the country and forcing some schools to go remote again anne thompson has all that >> reporter: with the start of 2022, the nation hopes to turn the page on covid. but in many places today, it is more of the same this drive-up testing site in raleigh, north carolina, busy on a holiday. >> just to be safe i'll probably stay isolated until i get a negative result. >> reporter: a soggy wait in new york city for tests that could take up to seven days for results. as kids, travelers, and workers seek answers to, do i have covid? >> we have seen shortages in the travel industry. we have seen shortages in the health care industry caused by omicron. can we anticipate this
to ripple across the economy? >> i think so. because this variant, omicron, is causing so many cases simultaneously, it has the ability to make it so that we can't actually staff the things we need to do. >> reporter: in new york city, 21% of the police force is out sick now with the cdc reporting high community transmission in every state - >> i want to go back to school. >> reporter: return to school will be a test in itself for students, teachers, and parents. >> last year, really challenging. so if we can keep the schools open and keep them going with the education. >> reporter: across the country, a patchwork of standards. at seattle public schools, there will be no classes monday but voluntary covid tests instead. in the nation's capital, d.c. students will need to show a negative test to return. it will be remote learning in cleveland for the first week of the year, and in newark, new jersey, the state's largest
school district, students are virtual until at least january 18th >> the week before winter break, and then the days leading up to winter break, the numbers were unlike we had ever seen before >> reporter: yet new york's new mayor says the nation's largest school district will stay open. >> we can't close down our city every time there's a new variant. we can't allow our children to keep missing school >> anne joins me from times square anne, happy new year the new mayor of new york saying he's determined to keep things open, but omicron is already straining city services, right? >> reporter: it is, kate now it's the fire department warning new york city residents to only call ambulances in medical emergencies. crews, they say, do not have covid tests and won't take you for a ride to the hospital just because you want one. kate >> all right, anne, thank you. public health officials obviously are concerned about those rising omicron case counts, but there's also some positive news tonight from scientists.
multiple recent studies have found omicron does not seem to affect the lungs like previous variants did. instead suggesting it stays in the upper respiratory system the question we all want answered as we enter 2022, could we be at a turning point with an end to the pandemic in sight? here's gadi schwartz >> reporter: tonight, cautious optimism from experts studying the most contagious covid variant so far, saying over the next few months there is a strong chance vaccinated or not, the majority of americans will come into contact with omicron which not only appears less severe but is likely pushing us closer to herd immunity. >> if you have a very transmissible virus that replaces another virus and that virus has less a degree of severity, that would be a positive outcome. >> reporter: omicron made up the majority of cases in the u.s. just weeks after first being detected >> pretty much everybody will have some immunity to this virus come the spring. >> reporter: early research shows a risk
of hospitalization and death dropping by more than half for the new strain in fact, one study found patients infected with omicron may have increased protection against more severe variants like delta. >> we'll have more variants i'm convinced we'll have more variants, but each of them will impact us less and less. >> reporter: in london, hard hit by the variant, the peak may have already passed in south africa, where omicron first spread wildly in november, the government said thursday the worst was over with no major spike in deaths. could we be seeing the end to the most dangerous part of this virus? >> not now the next month, four, six, eight weeks are going to be terrible but there are a lot of signs that say february might be okay, and maybe even better than okay >> reporter: still, doctors urging people not to let their guards down just yet >> the more we allow the omicron variant to spread across the country, the more it itself will mutate, and you could give rise to new, potentially more dangerous variants. >> reporter: it's why experts say the future could include regular booster shots similar
to the flu. >> the key is that we are turning this disease into something benign, into the common cold, not something that's going to land you in the hospital, not something that's going to kill you. >> reporter: health officials hoping this is a turning point for the pandemic some researchers think the u.s. will hit its peak by mid-january. kate, back to you. >> let's hope so, gadi, thank you. still ahead tonight, the new law banning most surprise medical bills. how it could save you thousands of dollars
a new year means a lot of new laws are going into effect today across the country, including one that puts a ban on something that impacts and shocks millions of americans every year, surprise medical bills. ali vitali has what you need to know. >> reporter: in the middle of the night on april 20th, stacy jackson heard a knock. >> there was a deputy at the door. and he said that -- the only thing he knew was that my son had been shot in the abdomen. >> reporter: her son's injuries were thankfully not severe enough to warrant surgery, and he soon went home to recover but then came the bills. the helicopter ride to the hospital alone cost more than $26,000. >> i thought, surely this isn't possible. >> reporter: stacy is one of the millions of americans stunned by surprise medical bills every year, from doctors or services outside their network. starting today, a new
law makes that a thing of the past. >> this is a change that needed to happen. this really should benefit patients. >> reporter: the no surprises act means americans should no longer have to worry about unforeseen fees when seeking medical care, including air transport to hospitals. patients will still be required to pay their deductibles but won't receive bills from out-of-network providers. any unresolved disputes can be handled through an independent resolution process with a new online complaint system already live. providers could be fined up to $10,000 for wrongful billing nevertheless, experts say patients need to be vigilant. >> do you think it's too much i think the first call is to whomever sent you the bill tell them, i think this is the wrong amount, i want this to be corrected. >> reporter: for stacy, whose charges were ultimately settled after more than seven months of negotiations, these changes are reassuring, especially during the pandemic. with unexpected medical crises now all too common. >> i think this bill is a great thing, because this isn't a situation that's unique, this happens to people every day. >> reporter: ali vitali, nbc news. the ban on medical
bills is far from the only law going into effect today pete williams on the many new rules that start today. >> reporter: students entering high school in ohio in the new year won't be allowed to graduate until they complete a course in financial literacy about such issues as taxes and interest rates. many students say it's what they need to know >> i would say, yeah, undoubtedly the most important, help you manage your money. >> reporter: as of today it's illegal to chain up your dog in texas. any outdoor restraint must be lighter and more flexible, and dogs must have adequate shelter, shade, and water >> texas wants to lead the way when it comes to animal abuse. and with this new tethering bill, i think we're going to be able to do that. >> reporter: governor greg abbott at first vetoed the law, then signed a new version after he was hit by a flood of tweets with the hashtag #abbotthatesdogs a new law in nevada makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny insurance to homeowners based on the breed of dogs they have
in washington state, home to tech giants, a new law requires anyone selling a house to disclose whether the property has internet service florida will require child care providers to install alarms in any car, bus, or van to alert drivers to make sure everyone is out before locking up, to reduce deaths from children stuck in hot cars. >> it's going to be maybe a financial burden, we don't know yet. but if it's going to keep children safe, save lives, we'll do it. >> reporter: oregon says cheers by allowing the sale of cocktails to go, even after the pandemic ends >> we do need to improve upon that portion of our business certainly we'll be doing so in the future >> reporter: drinks must be sold in a sealed container to be opened at home, where they can help toast the new year pete williams, nbc news, washington >> cheers, oregon. we are back in a moment with the payday after game day how college players are finally cashing in
it's a big weekend in college football with teams squaring off in several bowl games. it's not just a trophy on the line. there are also billions of dollars at stake. and now a big change to the rules means college players can get some of that money for themselves steve patterson now on how it's changing the game >> ladies and gentlemen, i have officially joined the newly announced nil program -- >> reporter: the new era of college athletics has kicked off. joe spivac, defensive lineman, graduating from northwestern
university, is in the first class of students who can now start cashing in on the $18 billion college sports industry this fall the general counsel for the national labor relations board issued this memo supporting ncaa athletes who can now collect payment on their name, image, or likeness, nil. >> i'm jacked up, getting ready for everything i have, getting my iron hot for the wwe, i'm going to be ready to go. >> reporter: he signed with world wrestling entertainment, the wwe. >> to allow college students to sort of monetize and utilize their name, image, and likeness it's opened up an avenue for us. >> reporter: wwe superstar and executive paul "hhh" livac signed 15 college athletes after the rule change. >> this allows them to have that open door to earn money while in college. >> what's going on, world? dtr here, i'm officially part of cameo. >> reporter: ucla quarterback dorian thompson-robinson, sidelined from the holiday bowl due to positive covid cases on his team, finding fame off the field
he's growing his brand as a spokesperson on cameo and launching a clothing brand with his mother. >> i think the biggest thing for me is that it gives me a lot of options to do kind of whatever i want. you know you can be your own boss >> reporter: thompson-robinson is among a few college football stars developing limited-edition nfts, online digital collectibles developed with the company candy digital. >> be able to put a little bit of money in our pockets and in our family's pockets, it's definitely a blessing. >> a new generation of athlete entrepreneurs finally able to capitalize on their talent. >> i am a future wwe superstar! >> reporter: steve patterson, nbc news. when we come back, the moments so many were waiting for heartwarming reunions after spending so much time apart ♪
there's good news tonight on this new year's day as we reflect on the power of reunions. 2021 saw a whole lot of them, and we're hopeful there will be a lot more getting together with loved ones in this new year to come. these are the moments we've been waiting so long for an emotional embrace after so many of us were apart >> it's so good to hug you! >> reporter: those first hugs >> somebody special here to see you.
>> oh! >> reporter: what so many grandparents missed zooms and facetimes finally replaced by walks in the park, family trips, and selfies with friends >> i can't believe it! >> reporter: a new appreciation for even the simplest moments >> hey, grandma's here >> yeah! >> i love being around my grandkids i'm just really glad that this was -- i see it maybe coming to an end, hopefully >> mwah! >> i got it! >> i got it! >> reporter: the pandemic has been hard on all of us but there were sweet reunions at airports after months and miles of distance. two best friends finally seeing each other after too long >> you just made my day! >> i feel like i'm dreaming >> reporter: and after special days we missed -
>> i can't believe you're here! >> reporter: this mom finally hugging her daughter after nearly 15 months. >> let's go! >> reporter: the family traditions we thought we had lost. >> whoa! >> reporter: but were always in our hearts. >> i came through a rough bout with covid, and i'm able to be here with all of you today. and it means the world to me. >> reporter: one texas family reuniting with a loved one who had been abroad since covid kept them apart. >> you never think that your family's going to be separated for two years. it's been a hard two years. >> reporter: and then there were these surprises. the emotional moment a u.s. air force master sergeant returned from a months-long deployment. >> my eyes were flooding tears of joy i just felt so good having him back. >> reporter: military families reuniting meant so much more this dad just back from kuwait, disguised as a referee, also surprising his son on the football field connections that reminded us, during the most difficult times, nothing is more
a freeze warning moving into areas around the bay area. frequent in many spots heading for the 30s. we'll break down where it's going to be the coldest. the news at 6:00 starts right now. i'm terry mcsweeney. a freezing start to the new year. a live look at san jose. a matter of hours, we'll be under a freeze warning. like many places in the bay area, right to meteorologist rob mayeda. >> the freeze warning. san francisco still hanging on the 50s for the moment, but speaking of san jose, now down to 47 degrees. and look at livermore, getting closer to the 30s. and it's just 6:00, down to 4