tv Alex Witt Reports MSNBC February 12, 2022 10:00am-11:00am PST
a very good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. welcome to alex witt reports. we begin with the breaking news. the president just wrapping up a critical hour long phone call between russian president vladimir putin, the conversation comes as officials warn an invasion of ukraine could be imminent. a live report of details in just a few moments, as russia adds troops ukraine's border, putin requested the call take place on monday. house intelligence committee
member mike quigley explains the importance of having that meeting today. >> i think it was unprecedented for great britain and the u.s. to reveal intelligence information about the very notion of a false flag and give so much information. they recognize how important it was. all i'll reference is the fact that mr. sullivan referenced that intelligence information and that it was important enough to move up the call amid the fears that the invasion could be imminent. >> to another breaking news story we're following along a key u.s. canadian border crossing, police are working to clear out truckers who have been blocking the ambassador bridge for days, protesting canada's covid mandates, that blockade has ground the flow of critical supplies between the two countries to a halt. this hour we're going to bring a live report from the ground, give reaction whose district includes the detroit side of the bridge. the fight for voting rights is intensifying.
congresswoman ayanna pressley, jim clyburn, and congressman jones sent a letter to attorney general merrick garland, asking the doj to aggressively increase its efforts to protect voting rights, particularly for voters of color. earlier today, congressman clyburn told msnbc why they're increasing the pressure. >> we think that congressmen do a lot of things, but we have to defend upon the justice department to enforce the law. we think the attorney general needs to step in and let it be known that if the justice department is not going to be quiet when this is going on, you can't wait until the elections are over, and then litigate the cases. when you look around, you have people in office and they're there, i guess the president of the united states.
>> let's go back to the breaking news and bring in nbc white house correspondent mike memoli and aaron mclaughlin. ukraine in the capitol city of kyiv, welcome to you both, mike, we're going to begin with you. what are you learning about president biden's conversation with president putin that wrapped up 45 minutes ago. have you gotten a readout? >> the call lasted an hour and two minutes to be exact. the white house is briefing reporters, but we have gotten our first official readout from the white house, and i'll read to you a bit of what they're saying about the call. the white house is saying that president biden was clear to pruitt that if russia undertakes a further invasion of ukraine, the united states together with our allies and partners will respond decisively, and impose swift costs, and reiterated a further invasion would produce widespread human suffering and diminished russia standingment this is the initial top lines from the white house about what these two leaders spoke. obviously emphasizing the
president's side of it. what's interesting, alex, as we have seen just relentless diplomacy over the course of the last two months, involving the president, other administration officials, all speaking with president putin of russia that there have been very different views about what exactly is even happening. the u.s. side increasingly declassifying information, making more public their concern about just how imminent an invasion was. but president putin again this morning telling the president of france, emmanuel macron this is just provocative speculation on the part of the west, and we have seen, as russia has been moving more of its forces, the u.s. has been moving some of our forces to prepare to defend some of our nato allies. here's jake sullivan, the national security adviser laying out what that was all about yesterday. >> on the question of the president authorizing more unilateral forces to europe, he has been clear all along he is open to doing so as circumstances warrant. i want to be very clear about something, these deployments of
u.s. service members to poland, romania, to germany, these are not soldiers who are being sent to go fight russia in ukraine. they are defensive deployments, they are nonescalatory. they are meant to reinforce, reassure, and deter aggression against nato territory. >> and now alex, just in the last few seconds, that briefing from the white house has wrapped up, and significantly, according to an administration official, there has been no fundamental change to the dynamic as the president, as his advisers have been laying out over the last few days. it doesn't appear the call has moved things significantly. you're seeing the photo of the president during the call with president putin. the us is not going to continue to give russia diplomatically, but the president used the call to emphasize the economic costs but also the costs to russia's sta stature in the world.
>> we will bring in erin mclaughlin from kyiv. you told us ukraine's president is responding to the new warnings from the white house. what more can you tell us about that. >> reporter: that's right, alex. we heard from president zelensky earlier today. once again, down playing this threat, urging ukrainians remain calm, urging people here not to panic, and for the most part, ukrainians seemed to be listening. in the capitol this afternoon, thousands turned out for a solidarity march, but other than that, most people are going about their normal daily lives. you don't see people panicking here. you don't see people evacuating and that includes americans we were speaking to, american dave eagan, a retiree, moved here three years ago, and he says he's not going anywhere. take a listen. >> i'm not going anywhere. i don't know what's going to happen, but i'm not running.
i can't see really why the russians would want to come and do this and destroy this place. i think it's counter productive to them and i think the ukrainian people will fight them very strong, and i'm trying to find ways to help that. i really think a lot of it's a bluff. i mean, i'm not a tactician or anything or a politician. but looking at what i'm, you know, i know the ukrainian people fairly well now, and i know they're not giving this up easy. so it seems to me like unless putin wants an awful lot of body bags coming back, this is probably a big mistake. maybe it's just a bluff to get concessions from the west. >> reporter: u.s. officials say hundreds of americans have registered with the state department. their intention to stay inside ukraine. the state department personally calling each of those individuals, urging them to leave. saying that time is running out. and to that effect tonight, the
first major airliner, dutch airline klm has announced that it's suspending all flights to kyiv. alex. >> erin, i'm going to get back with you as well, and ask you to stay through this next conversation as we are all joined by timothy frie, codirector for the study of institutions and development at the higher school of economics in moscow, also author of "weak strongman, the limits of power in putin's russia," timothy, welcome to you. you know a few things about vladimir putin, so what do you think is the number one point that he wanted to drive home to president putin today on that phone call? >> i think just as the biden administration has been trying to paint this conflict as a war of choice for vladimir putin, that the ball is in his court, i'm sure the president putin was using the same tactic on president biden saying that the resolution of the crisis is in
biden's hands, that as long as the u.s. and nato allies continue to entertain the notion that ukraine could become a member of nato, and that nato is unwilling to pull back troops and material from eastern europe, then his hands are being forced, and what's complicating here, of course, is that leaders in kyiv, washington and moscow have all taken very strong stances, and it's difficult to see the window that would allow an agreement that all three sides could agree to, and it's really tragic because the cost of a conflict in terms of bloodshed could be really tremendous? >> so tim, here's the question, though, with putin categorizing all of this, particularly by the united states is provocative speculation. does anyone believe him. i mean, how do you take all the maneuvers that president putin has taken thus far over 100,000 troops amassed along the border. naval blockades, and even the
final straw being that field hospitals have been set up. blood has been brought into the area. intelligence would suggest that once that happens, that is the strongest indication of a serious intent to invade. does anyone believe vladimir putin when he says, this is just provocative speculation. here's the one being provocative. >> sure, it's important for the domestic audience. within russia, public opinion towards an invasion of ukraine has been decidedly negative. in general, russian public opinion has been sensitive to the loss of life. if you look at military operations in eastern ukraine and syria, the kremlin has taken that to heart as well. one success that the kremlin has had is that domestically most russians continue to blame nato for the increase in tensions around ukraine. so although few i think international observers looking
at the deployment and how extensive it is really believe what is coming out of the kremlin in support for the domestic audience. >> erin, let me ask you about the reaction from president zelensky. pretty consistently to all of this, he seems to down play the threat of invasion. what is the calculus there, what does he stand to gain by doing that? >> well, today zelensky was pointing to his own intelligence. he has long been down playing the threat of an invasion, and i have been speaking to ukrainian experts here, and they have been telling me that they believe that he's extremely concerned about panic. he doesn't want to see people panicking. he doesn't want to see long lines evacuating the country at this point. he doesn't want to see the grocery stores emptying out. long lines at gas stations, panic is seen as a critical enemy. he wants to avoid that in part because, remember, the economy
here in ukraine is extraordinarily fragile and deteriorating with each dire warning that is emanating from the west. so at this point, experts telling me that president zelensky is working to try and avoid that while keeping the situation calm and reassuring people as well. aside, though, military experts tell me that the ukrainian nilt -- military is taking this extraordinary seriously. they are looking at the build up on three sides of ukraine, the build up to belarus, the build up to the east, and the potential blockade to the south. the ukrainian military is acting accordingly. >> question for you, mike, and that is why do you think the administration demanded that phone call that the russians put forth as being let's do this monday, they said, nope, we're doing it today. why the change? why move it up? >> reporter: there's been a real clear effort on the part of the administration here to not let russia have the element of
surprise, that by continuously putting more information into the public space including declassifying, as you were talking about with congressman quigley, it forces putin into a tougher time. as long as putin is talking he's not invading, and we have seen president putin with a series of conversations over the last weeks with other european leaders, boris johnson by phone a few weeks ago, just this week with president macron of france, he's actually scheduled to meet in person with olaf schultz, the new chancellor of germany on february 15th. at this point, it does appear that that meeting is moving forward, and so the more that the white house can encourage these kinds of conversations to continue, then they see that as a good thing. as a white house official just put it in this call with reporters that ended a few moments ago, military action still appears a distinct possibility. they're clear eyed about the fact that this diplomatic effort, this diplomatic path
remains available but it's increasingly available to them that president putin does not appear ready to back down. >> tim, last question to you. is there something given your knowledge of vladimir putin that you think could be the tipping point to make him blink in a diplomatic solution to this build up? >> i think the u.s. will levee massive sanctions against president putin's inner circle, sanctions against, you know, high technology that's important for the russian military effort. but i think the research is pretty clear that when countries really want to do something, particularly in the national security realm, you know, economic sanctions are unlikely to stop them. it doesn't mean that they shouldn't be used. they do play an important signaling role, and they do raise the costs on action, but we need to keep in mind, we need to be realistic about what we can accomplish with sanctions. so at this point, i think it's
really a much more decision about what are the kinds of costs that moscow was willing to bear. on the one hand, president putin could walk this all back and say cooler heads have prevailed and play the role of a wise statesman. i don't think that's likely to happen. i think much more likely to happen is a incursion short of a full invasion, cyber attacks, perhaps annexation of territory within ukraine, and this would put nato in a difficult position given the hetero gentlemen -- if moscow decides to do something short of a full on invasion. >> okay. many thanks to all of you. mike memoli, erin mclaughlin, and political science professor timothy frye, appreciate you all. about the ongoing tensions in ukraine, here's what americans think in a uvog poll,
as for negotiations, 53% say the u.s. should stay out of them. 43% say the u.s. should support ukraine, and 4% say the u.s. should support russia. and about president putin's approach, 46% say about right, 34% say too friendly, and one in five say the president has been too hostile. let's go to los angeles and the escalating security concerns surrounding the super bowl. 75,000 fans are expected to flood the stadium to watch the bengals and rams face off. there are no known threats a major security operation is underway, and that crowd is preparing for the big game, covid remains another major concern. shaq brewster back in englewood, california. it's always an issue with security. i think they even let the game end and maybe a week later start planning for the security, right, for every super bowl every year because it's enormous.
how are things underway for sunday? >> reporter: that's exactly right, alex. this is a massive undertaking that, yeah, is many many months in the making. if you look around this area, around the stadium, there's fencing that's up. a lot of security requirements and we also know it's not just the game they are worried about protecting but all of the fan events around the game. you may hear music in the background right now, and that's some of the sound checks for shows that you're going to be seeing in the area, the downtown area, the parties, fan events, festivals, look at the light show we saw last night that was sponsored by the nfl where they use some 500 drones. look at that there, they have the nfl logo, there's some team logos they were bringing up. they're encouraging fans to come out. they want them to do it and do it in a safe manner, and you know, one thing that makes the super bowl so different from last year is the fact that those outside fan events are being encouraged. i spoke to w wyclef john listeno
what he told me. does it feel different two years after the pandemic? >> you know the physicality of the fans, actually being there. i think it's epic, like in the sense of we've just overcome something. i mean, the idea of us being locked down, i don't know about you, but i have friends that have suffered like from mental health. so i think that it's going to bring us together. >> reporter: it's not just the hard security but there's also making sure that fans are safe with this pandemic and to that point, to get in the game, fans must show that proof of vaccination. that will be cross checked with their identification. if they don't have that they need a negative covid test that was taken either within 24 hours. if it's a rapid test or 48 hours if it's a pcr test, and that's not just the game.
there are some parties, i have seen some invitations where they're requiring a booster shot for people to come and celebrate with them. you really get the sense that people want to have a good time, but they want to have that balance and make sure that they're safe. as there's this lingering concern about the pandemic. alex. >> sounds like a very smart approach to all of it. thank you so much, shaq, we'll look forward to seeing you in the next hour. police in canada take action to end the truckers bridge blockade amid concerns of similar protests in the united states. president obama met with the private caucus. what was his message. i'll be speaking with one of those democrats who was there next. e speaking with one of those democrats who was there those democrats who was there next earn big time with chase freedom unlimited with no annual fee. how do you cashback? chase. make more of what's yours. ♪ l u emu ♪ and doug. we gotta tell people that liberty mutual customizes car insurance so you only pay for what you need, and we gotta do it fast.
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to receive fifty percent off installation. and take advantage of our special offer of no payments for 18 months. we are following this breaking news out of canada where police today are slowly working to clear the demonstrators off the ambassador bridge? that's a key route connecting the u.s. and canada, after days of trucker protests against covid mandates, those protesters
defying a court order that went into effect late last night. cal perry is in the thick of things in windsor. what's the latest? have more truckers and protesters left the area since the last hour? >> reporter: no, it seems like more people are coming. folks from town, folks with families, walking down the road from windsor. i think word has gotten out on social media and on television that the police are trying to clear this intersection. look, the bridge is there, and i have to tell you, the bottom line here is if police were hoping to get this open, they have at least for now failed, and part of the reason was this slow methodical move they made may have encouraged folks to come. you talk to the folks here, their bottom line is as remains, they want to get rid of the mandates, it is a politically sensitive issue here, you have cases going down. you have the government that wants to reduce mandates. and you have the trucker
protests, and that's where the government draws the line, the u.s. president called the prime minister to get this open. alex, i have to tell you again, this crowd is as big as we have seen it in three days. 2 to 300 people. last night around midnight, there was a dozen people in the intersection. police made a decision not to move in. interesting, we'll see how it goes today. i think they were hoping to have it cleared, and they certainly do not. >> reporter: >> -- >> i'm confirming you are there in canada. are you able to walk over the bridge to get to detroit? i know a car couldn't but could you walk over the bridge. >> reporter: on a normal day if you wanted to brave the cold. today, no, there's nothing. police have cordoned off the area, and they have done so on both sides of the bridge. interestingly enough if you are a trucker and you want to get your goods in canada, you have to go 65 miles to port huron, sometimes up to five-hour wait, and your truck around, and it's another day's travel, and as you
know, supply chain, time money, and that has people concerned. >> it's going to be more expensive doing that. cal perry, we'll check back in. thank you. joining me now is michigan congresswoman brenda lawrence, a democratic member of the house appropriations and oversight committees. welcome back to the broadcast, it's good to see you specifically today, congresswoman. your district includes that detroit side of the ambassador bridge. how is this affecting your constituents? >> it's a sense of concern because this is about the workers. we have a very open border. so people from canada cross over to work this the united states. people in the united states cross over to work in canada. it's about manufacturing. all of the auto industry, the major hub of our auto industry traffic internationally is through this bridge, and it's the supply chain. we are already suffering from the covid-related challenges in our supply chain. now we're talking about this
blockade, and we do have another bridge open, but it's adding to the time and it is unfortunately taking money away from our workers. >> yeah, absolutely. well, this so-called freedom truck convoy, there are concerns that it could spread. dhs is warning that it could hit the u.s., could hit tomorrow's super bowl in los angeles, that that could be impacted. the bulletin also says the protest could make its way across the u.s. to d.c. for the state of the union. that's going to be delivered on march 1st. if what your district is experiencing right now, if that starts happening like a domino effect across this country, how crippling could that become? >> i want you to know we have all hands on deck. our relationship with our ambassadors, homeland security, all of the players the white house, our governors, are really keeping an eye on this, and working to be able to respond.
you know, in america we have freedom of speech and to protest. but we know that this is bigger than a protest. it's about our workers, our manufacturing, and our supply chain, and so we are really on alert here in the united states. not to stop the opportunity for free speech and protests but to ensure that our supply chain, which is being challenged every day, and people walk in grocery stores, and we see the price hikes that we continue to protect our economy and protect our right to protest as well. we need to end this blockade and it has to be done safely, but we need it done swiftly, and we're counting on this democracy of the canadian government to make it happen. >> okay. let's switch gears to the house committee on which you sit. it has announced an investigation into the white
house records that have been recovered from donald trump's mar-a-lago. some of the documents that donald trump took with him were clearly marked top secret or classified. what can you tell us about the oversight committee's investigation into what happened with these documents? what specifically are you looking for regarding any potentially serious violations of the presidential records act? >> i want you to know i am so uniquely interested in this because when i came into congress, we were in deep debate, hearings and investigations of hillary clinton, and how she had mishandled documents that were entrusted upon her in part of government. and i heard uniquely from my republican colleagues how egregious this was. how unacceptable, and how this was against the constitution and rights and policies, and here we are, we know because we picked up the boxes the possession of a former president, and we know
that there are statements from staff of how he ripped and allegedly flushed documents, i'm very interested in this. i was educated during those multiple hearings and debates of how the responsibility of the elected official to preserve the records and documents, they do not belong to them. when you sit in the white house, it belongs to the government, to the archives for us to maintain. he knows it. we have them on record, and he meaning donald trump, the former president knew how wrong this was because he used it in his campaign repeatedly of how he demonized hillary clinton for doing the same thing. so i'm very very interested, and prepared to have interesting dialogue and investigation into these issues. >> and i'm very interested to
ask you this question on what you said. those republicans with whom you spoke, they said they were very appalled and outraged by hillary clinton and her e-mail behavior have any one of them said, oh, we're very outraged and appalled by donald trump taking top thid been enslaved, a spell has been placed on them, something has happened to my colleagues who i know were extremely passionate. to me at times overly zealous to demonize this person who was -- had not followed protocol to protect the documents that they were entrusted with, and now it's radio silence. i don't know what's happening. i wish i could find the answer to that. but i will use all of the energy
that they have invoked in previous debates and investigations about the protection of documents and to any hearing that i participate in. >> you come right back and tell us what you find out because i'd love to hear the answers to all of those questions you're posing. one more i have for you, though, and that would be regarding former president barack obama who spoke virtually with house democrats this week. you know because you were there. he was talking about how the dems are grappling with the stalled legislative agenda, navigating through the midterms and campaigns leading up to november. according to punch bowl news, president obama said quote democrats have a tendency to complain about what we didn't get done rather than talking about what we did get done. so what was the reaction in the room to that, and do you agree? >> one thing i will agree on is that we as democrats, we need to be stronger in our messaging. nothing to me is more egregious
than a member voting against funding and policies like with our investment in our infrastructure that we just passed trillions of dollars we're going to put into our infrastructure, and then go out and publicly celebrate it at the ribbon cuttings, say what they have done when they voted against it. and one of the things that the president said, you need to be really clear. the votes from the republican party were not there. we as the democrats delivered. we are bringing the investment in our infrastructure that we have not seen since the new deal. he said we are -- we do the work. but we're not doing the best job in delivering the message, and we see on the other side, the republicans, they get their line, they stick to it. whether it's true or not, and they stick together in their message, and he said, we need to have that same passion of
talking about what we have delivered. and, you know, the public, they're very short in their memory, and we change the message a lot. we need to hone in on our message, on the truth, delivering, making sure the american public understands and respect the amount of work and what we have done for the american people. and the list is very long. >> i hope that the democrats were taking notes from president obama and in fact, what you have reiterated there. thank you so much, congresswoman. it's very good to see you. we'll talk to you soon. a turning point in the pandemic, why it may be coming sooner than you might think, and whether you should get your hopes up. u might think, and whether you should get your hopes up hey google. ♪ ♪ ♪
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multiple states that did are moving to drop the requirement as cases wane and polls show americans are largely exhausted with the pandemic. california's mandate ends on wednesday but some local jurisdictions are setting their own rules. let's go to nbc's scott cohn joining us. how are cities loosening mask requirements? >> reporter: it's literally all over the map. this is san jose as you said, this is a facility called the tech interactive. a science center in the heart of silicon valley in santa clara county where for the foreseeable future, you will be required to wear a mask. even though the california statewide mandate goes away on wednesday. take a look at the numbers and what's going on here, in santa clara county, one of the first places to contend with covid, they have embraced vaccinations, 84% vaccinated, 2/3 of residents 12 and up have booster shots.
compare that to the state where 65% are fully vaccinated and 43% have boosters. the metric they are sticking with in santa clara county, 80% must be fully vaccinated. check. hospitalizations must be low. check. but the 7-day average of cases has to be below 550 and here in santa clara, they are still more than three times that. at facilities like this, the tech interactive, it's leading to a little bit of tricky navigation. >> we have been very carefully kind of following what schools are doing, so that families are seeing some consistency in what's happening at school. and what's happening here. i do, you know, expect that we'll all continue to wrestle with what the right decisions are coming at the other side of the pandemic. i think shutting down is easier than opening back up. and i think we're all going to be asking each other for some patience and grace as we work together and try to keep balancing community health with,
you know, getting our kids the learning that they need. >> this being a science center, they say that makes it a little bit easier to explain to the public what's going on. if you live next door in san mateo county, no masks as of wednesday, but you come over to santa clara county, and you're dealing with masks still. one public health expert tells me that we're kind of entering a phase of the pandemic where it's a little bit more individual decisions, his advice, keep the mask handy, if you feel uncomfortable, put it on. alex. >> i have always wondered about the lack of uniformity about mask mandates. it's not like the virus goes up to san mateo county. we're in san jose. anyway, thank you, scott, i appreciate that. we'll see you again soon. meantime, let's go to a glimmer of hope in the fight against covid. experts predict the pandemic in the u.s. could transition to an endemic as early as this spring. joining me now to discuss further is dr. vin gupta, global policy health expert.
welcome back, it's good to see you. in part, it's because you said on msnbc this week, based on all forecasts, the u.s. will reach an endemic phase by april. that's wonderful news, how did you draw this conclusion? >> alex, thank you for having me back. we're expecting that at least 75% of the adult population, the eligible population of the u.s. will have received at least one dose of the vaccine by april 1st, coupled with the fact that if you're not vaccinated, you likely will have been exposed to omicron and have some degree of that so-called natural protection that we do believe will at least give you some degree of protection from reinfection for a short period of time. that's why we're expecting hospitals to really unstress between say april and i hope well into october. that six-month time frame. that easing is really going to be seen and felt across the
country and most hospital systems by april 1st, and you'll see that glide path into may. we're really going to feel largely back to normal, hospitals, covid is not going to dominate the way it's dominating right now. 20,000 deaths just in the last seven days. that's where we're going to expect relief, and lastly, i'll say seasonality. colder, dryer air dominates, and the air we breathe. warmer, more humid air, actually protects against transmission. multiple factors playing into that forecast april 1st. >> okay. let's look at what happened last week with the world health organization making a similar prediction to yours, but this for europe, but it was contingent upon continued boosting and vaccinations. does the same metric apply here in the u.s. you say that you hope by april, 70% plus of the population will have had at least some level of vaccination. but does that have to remain in tact continually vaccinating, continually boosting, to get to an endemic stage? >> i think the more we're
learning about additional shots, say above two shots, the more we recognize, i have seen this with my own eyes, individuals that are higher risk absolutely need that third shot, potentially if you're a transplant recipient, even that fourth shot to stay out of an icu, alex, and yet, if you're otherwise not high risk, either based on age or underlying conditions, cdc just published pretty significant data showing two shots is sufficient. that myself and others have been saying the goal of vaccination against the contagious respiratory virus is to keep you out of the hospital, not with a positive test. with that as the benchmark, i think two shots is going to be enough for many people in society, three, four shots, additional shots for those individuals that are high risk. that's basically what we're entering. one way masking for those individuals who think they are high risk, perceive that increased risk, that vulnerability, additional shots, especially for the group, for everybody else, two shots seems to be sufficient to keep you out
of the hospital. yes, i do think there is going to have to be some nuance in how we message in terms of these controls. i expect april 1st, what's good for europe is good for the united states. >> i hope there's no shaming of people who choose to for their own protection, own comfort, continue wearing their masks. you know, people do a little bit of mask shaming. let people do what makes them feel comfortable, even if there isn't a mask mandate. that's my two cents there. let me ask you about the likelihood of omicron, delta, another variant emerging, what's the likelihood of that? >> we're already seeing alex, we're seeing the stealth omicron variant arise in places like denmark. luckily we're not seeing any significant spike in hospitalizations, again, to the point here that these vaccines may not protect against a positive test from a sigma or theta variant down the road. we should expect that, so we're not taking off as we were the
day after thanksgiving. these vaccines are holding up against severe illness, and that's the only thing they will be good at over time. i think we should all expect that new variants will arise. coronaviruses like sars-cov-2, this pandemic version of the virus or other coronaviruses. there's many other coronaviruses in the air that we breathe in any given cold and flu season. constantly they like to mutate. most don't cause a worldwide pandemic. this family of viruses likes to mutate. we expect it and have the faith the vaccines are doing their job. >> dr. vin gupta, look forward to speaking to you again. thank you. in order to get los angeles ready for the super bowl, officials had to take drastic actions that involved the homeless, we'll give you a report on why next, and we're watching a breaking story, police in canada taking action to end the truckers bridge blockade. we have an update coming your way next. idge blockade we have an update coming your we have an update coming your way nextters
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a growing crisis. let's go to nbc's guad venegas, joining us from l.a. this does create problems, certainly, for a lot of people. talk about what you know and what's happened here. >> reporter: alex, well, the problem is there, but it's changing the dynamic of the way these things are taking place here, right?
let me just say that several cities and state agencies in the region have stepped up the cleaning of a lot of these encampments. what activists are saying is that they are prioritizing or focusing on the ones in the main avenues or just in areas where visitors would definitely see them. dawn is one of the tens of thousands living on the streets of los angeles. a few weeks before the super bowl, she was cleared from the campsite under the 405 freeway where she says she had been staying for two years. >> they just came and moved us out. everything. because of the super bowl. that ain't right. >> reporter: the clean-up, one of many taking place around los angeles county as they prepare to host the super bowl. the los angeles homeless services authority recorded 66,000 homeless individuals in l.a. county at the start of a pandemic. the new count is set to begin this month and is expected to be much larger. do you know most of these people?
>> yes. >> reporter: madeline is one of the volunteers helping the homeless and advocating for additional resources. >> if you live in los angeles, it seems overwhelming. there's so many unhoused people living on the streets. it seems like an unfixable problem because there are so many people. >> reporter: local and state officials are working together allocating billions to build housing specifically for the homeless or those in danger of becoming homeless. through project home key, the state made 6,000 housing units available in its first phase and is expected to add another 55,000 over the next few years. the last report indicates less than 2,000 units have been made available in los angeles. in recent months, the city of l.a. has voted to make street camping illegal in more than 200 locations, while across the country, camps like the one where dawn lived are getting cleared. >> this is essentially a hotel district next to the airport, but this boulevard connecting to the stadium less than two miles away. the last encampment is there,
but next to it and out of sight is another encampment that was left untouched. the camp removal was executed by the state agency caltrans, which is in charge of the freeway areas. the agency telling nbc news the area needed to be cleared due to a fire safety issue, adding the department is coordinating with local partners to provide outreach and support, including the los angeles homeless services authority. the super bowl stadium is in the city of inglewood adjacent to los angeles. the mayor there insists the clean-ups have nothing to do with the event. >> this is something that occurs year in and year out, so this one, it was just time for this one. the last major clean-up was at the intersection of prairie and 111, which is not 11 blocks from sofi, and it was done three months ago. >> reporter: yet, for locals, the problem is as real as it gets. the "l.a. times" recently published a survey that found 94% of voters believe homelessness is a very serious
problem in los angeles. with visitors in town for the super bowl, unable to ignore that even in the great city of angels, thousands sleep on the street every night. now, of course, the only real solution to help this problem would be to create more affordable housing, not just in los angeles but other parts of california. that's why the state is investing billions to create more of these affordable housing units, something that will take time. until then, it will be very difficult to offer housing that just doesn't exist for a lot of the people that are there. now, there is a lot of new housing being built in all parts of southern california, something that the activists say is a problem because much of that housing are apartments that are considered luxury apartments that are not really meant for those that really have the need. so it's a complex problem that the state is trying to solve by building more of this affordable housing. >> absolutely something i've born witness to every time i go
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