NBC News United States of America
Breaking news, videos, and the latest top stories in world news, business, politics, health and pop culture.
1 dead, others hurt after tour bus rolls on its way to Grand Canyon - NBC News
One person was killed and others were injured, including two critically, after a tour bus accident in Arizona as it was headed to Grand Canyon West, the sheriff's office said.
One person is dead and others were seriously injured after a tour bus headed to the Grand Canyon crashed in Arizona on Friday, the sheriff's office said. The tour bus, which was managed by a Las Vegas company, was carrying 48 people, including the driver, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. It rolled and landed on its side around 12:20 p.m. on Diamond Bar Road on its way toward the Grand Canyon National Park, the officials said. One person was killed, two others were in critical condition and seven others were also taken to a hospital with less serious injuries, the sheriff's office said. Thirty-three other people on the bus had minor injuries. The name of the tour bus company, and where exactly it departed from were not released in the sheriff's statement. The accident is under investigation, it said. Photos of the scene showed the bus on its side. Some on social media described helping pull people out of the bus. The Red Cross of Arizona tweeted that it was monitoring the situation. The agency provides shelter and other assistance to those in need following accidents and disasters. Grand Canyon West is about a 126-mile drive from downtown Las Vegas. It's on the Hualapai Reservation west of Grand Canyon National Park and has attractions like the Skywalk, which extends about 70 feet over the canyon's rim.
JoJo Siwa comes out as gay after viral 'Born This Way' TikTok - NBC News
JoJo Siwa, the 17-year-old singer, dancer, actor and YouTube personality, has come out as gay, after alluding to it on social media over the past couple days.
JoJo Siwa, the 17-year-old singer, dancer, actor and YouTube personality, has come out as gay, after alluding to it on social media in recent days. Siwa first hinted at her coming out in a TikTok video posted to her over 31 million (and growing) followers on Thursday. In the video, she dances to Born This Way, the 2011 smash hit by Lady Gaga widely regarded as an LGBTQ anthem. The video has more than 4.5 million likes and 25 million views, by far Siwas most popular video on TikTok. Out of the more than 260,000 comments on the video, several prominent YouTube influencers, such as James Charles, Colleen Ballinger, Nikkie de Jager, Bretman Rock and more, congratulated and praised her. On Friday, Siwa posted a more definitive message, sharing a photo of herself wearing a shirt that reads Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever. and saying her cousin got it for her. Praise and positive reactions poured in for Siwa on Twitter, making her a trending topic on Friday afternoon. if u spell swag backwards, its gay. coincidence?? wrote Lil Nas X, who publicly came out on Twitter in June 2019. if u spell swag backwards, its gay. coincidence?? nope (@LilNasX) January 22, 2021 Siwa also posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a rainbow Gucci track jacket on Thursday, with thousands of comments from fans, including musician Luke Eisner, Paris Hilton and other celebrities, congratulating her. As a dancer, Siwa first shot to fame on the Lifetime reality series Dance Moms and soon skyrocketed with her fashion, accessories and music aimed at a young audience. She signed with Nickelodeon in 2017 and appeared in the TV movie Blurt, Lip Sync Battle Shorties and is the youngest contestant ever on Foxs The Masked Singer. Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram
California launches civil rights investigation of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department - NBC News
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Friday that his office will conduct a civil rights investigation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, criticized for fatal shootings.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday announced a state civil rights investigation of the perpetually troubled Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after allegations of excessive force. The state will investigate a possible pattern of unconstitutional law enforcement, the attorney general's office said in a statement. "The California Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation comes on the heels of allegations of excessive force, retaliation, and other misconduct, as well as a number of recent reported incidents involving LASD management and personnel," the office said. Becerra, President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, tweeted, "There are serious concerns and reports that accountability and adherence to legitimate policing practices have lapsed at LASD." Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement that he has repeatedly asked the attorney general's office for its oversight. Protesters, including family members of shooting victims, are kept behind a slinky barrier outside the home of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Dec. 23, 2020 in La Habra, Calif.Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images "I look forward to this non-criminal 'pattern and practice' investigation," he said. "Our Department may finally have an impartial, objective assessment of our operations." Villaneuva and his department have been the target of recurring protests over fatal shootings. The department has often responded to criticism and outside probes defiantly. In 2019, it opened an investigation into the county's inspector general, alleging the office obtained documents illegally. Among the sheriff's department's most controversial killings was the shooting of 18-year-old Andres Guardado in June 2020. An independent autopsy released by his family in July said he was shot five times in the back. Sheriff's detectives had placed a security hold on the county coroner's conclusions, and Villanueva defended the blackout as necessary to preserve the investigation's integrity. But the coroner's office launched a rare inquest that found Guardado's death was a homicide. The deputy who shot him declined to testify in the inquest. The department has also been criticized for its longstanding "deputy gangs," which a report last week by Loyola Law School numbered at 18. "These deputy gangs foster a culture of violence and escalate uses of force against community members, including fatal shootings," said author Sean Kennedy, executive director of the school's Center for Juvenile Law & Policy, in a statement. "The institutional failure to address these deputy gangs in any meaningful way has deprived the community of equal justice under the law." Last year, leaders of the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Oversight and Reform called on the Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff's department, alleging the deputy cliques "adhere to white supremacist ideologies, belong to 'criminal gangs,' and engage in an 'aggressive style of policing' motivated by racism." In November, deputies working a protest in downtown Los Angeles were accused of covering up identifying information on their name tags in violation of state law. The department defended the action as necessary because activists allegedly release deputies' personal information online. In September, a number of deputies arrested a Los Angeles radio reporter covering a protest outside a hospital where deputies who had been injured in a shooting were being treated. The department claimed the reporter had not identified herself as a member of the media, and Villanueva accused her of being engaged in "activism." But subsequent video of the arrest appeared to show those claims were wrong, and a charge of obstructing police was never filed. The county's civilian inspector general, Max Huntsman, agreed that the department's claims "may have been false." The following month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' civilian oversight commission called for Villanueva to resign and looked into the possibility of impeaching him. Villanueva refused to resign, calling the board's criticism of him "downright un-American." Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, said the group has been calling on the California attorney general to investigate the department since fall. "We hope that well get some semblance of justice in the name of the people who have been killed by the sheriffs department," she said. Noting the department's history of wrongdoing former Sheriff Lee Baca reported to prison last year after being convicted on federal charges of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI Abdullah said, "Its very difficult to be considered one of the worst sheriffs considering who Villanuevas predecessors were." The ACLU of Southern California has also called for the state to investigate the department. "We applaud the attorney general for answering the call by grassroots groups and the families of those killed by sheriffs deputies to launch an investigation into the pattern of unconstitutional policing by Sheriff Villanueva and the LASD," Andrés Kwon, policy counsel for the organization, said in a statement.
Senate confirms Lloyd Austin as first Black defense secretary - NBC News
The Senate confirmed the first Black secretary of defense, retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who needed a waiver from Congress to fill the Cabinet position.
WASHINGTON The Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly to confirm the first Black secretary of defense, retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who first needed Congress to approve a waiver for him to fill the Cabinet position. Lawmakers voted 93-2 in a final floor vote. Two Republicans, Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah, were the only members to vote no. President Joe Bidens nomination of Austin, 67, troubled some Democrats because his retirement from the military happened less than seven years ago, the minimum period of time a civilian is required to wait to lead the Defense Department. Austin retired in 2016. The House and Senate quickly approved the waiver for Austin on Thursday. Only two other nominees have been granted such a waiver: George C. Marshall, in the Truman administration, and James Mattis, in the Trump administration. Austin, who served in the Army for more than four decades, was commander of U.S. Central Command from 2013 to 2016 under President Barack Obama, leading the U.S. militarys strategy in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. Austin is the second Biden nominee to be confirmed since the presidents inauguration on Wednesday. The Senate confirmed Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence that day. In testimony at his confirmation hearing this week, Austin said that the most immediate challenge facing the U.S. is the coronavirus pandemic. He said that he would fight hard to rid our ranks of racists and extremists. Austin also said he would overturn the Trump administration's ban on transgender military service, which Trump first ordered by tweet in 2017. Biden wrote in an essay for The Atlantic magazine in December that he and Austin share a commitment to empowering our diplomats and development experts to lead our foreign policy, using force only as our last resort. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., voted to confirm Austin but said he opposed the waiver because he believes its a bad idea to repeatedly break the military-civilian separation norm. He said Mattis' waiver was an extraordinary circumstance because he was uniquely positioned to help the Trump administration navigate the challenges at the time. Team Biden is going to have a whole bunch of competent people, Sasse said Thursday. The Senate is expected to vote soon on the nominations of Antony Blinken for secretary of state and Janet Yellen for treasury secretary. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously reported Yellen's nomination to the floor Friday morning in a 26-0 vote.
Two Georgia educators die from Covid on the same day - NBC News
Two Cobb County educators died on the same day from Covid-19, sparking demands for the Georgia school district to switch to remote-only learning.
Two Cobb County educators died on the same day from Covid-19, sparking demands for the suburban Atlanta school district to switch to remote-only learning. Kemp Elementary School teacher Dana Johnson was hospitalized with the disease on Dec. 6, according to a GoFundMe set up to raise money for her family. The married mother of three was later diagnosed with double pneumonia and moved to the intensive care unit. She died on Thursday after battling the virus for more than a month. A Cobb district spokesperson confirmed the death in a statement on Friday. "Our hearts go out to the Johnson family and the entire Kemp community. Ms. Johnson was a valuable part of our academic community. The outpouring of support for her family during this difficult time shows how much she was loved and positively impacted those around her," the spokesperson said. News of Johnson's death came on the same day as that of another district educator. Sedalia Park Elementary School paraprofessional Cynthia Lindsey died Thursday after spending more than a week in the hospital on a ventilator, according to NBC affiliate WXIA-TV in Atlanta. The district's statement did not confirm Lindsey's death. "Every member of our school community has been impacted by the ongoing battle against Covid-19," the spokesperson said. "We continue to ask our staff, students, and families to follow public health guidance wear masks and social distance so we can stay as healthy as possible." More than 100 teachers, students, and community members gathered outside a Cobb school board meeting Thursday to push for fully remote learning in the wake of the deaths, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The crowd held signs that read "No more teacher deaths." People chanted: "One team, one goal. Save our lives." During the meeting, about a dozen people spoke in favor of closing classrooms during the pandemic, according to the newspaper. The district had already canceled all in-person classes this week due to a high number of students and staff who were told to quarantine. Face-to-face learning is scheduled to resume on Monday with an option for students to continue remote classes. "This break will provide our families and staff an opportunity to quarantine and work together to fight Covid-19 from our homes by limiting large gatherings, enforcing social distancing, wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible, and regularly washing our hands," the district said in a statement last Friday. Cobb County is one of five counties in Georgia with the highest number of coronavirus cases, according to the state Department of Public Health. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 47,106 confirmed cases and 638 deaths.
A Covid-19 peak? Variants muddy forecasts for coming months - NBC News
Variants of the coronavirus have led modelers warn that the U.S. is by no means out of the woods yet.
Hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States are falling after having hit record levels this month a welcome sign that the winter surge may finally be leveling off. But as new, potentially more contagious variants of the virus circulate, coronavirus modelers warn that the U.S. is by no means out of the woods yet. The emergence of new variants isn't altogether surprising, but experts say that without a better understanding of how these strains affect things like transmissibility and the effectiveness of existing vaccines, it's difficult to know how the pandemic may play out. "There's so much up in the air, and the new variants have thrown a huge monkey wrench into our ability to model things," said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, a professor of medicine and director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "All of those things make the crystal ball very cloudy." Although hospitalizations and the number of new infections in the U.S. both declined compared to the previous seven days, Covid-19 deaths are still rising. The country surpassed 400,000 deaths this week, and on Wednesday it set a daily record, with 4,131 reported deaths, according to an NBC News tally. It's estimated that the coronavirus has undergone thousands of mutations since it was detected in humans. Many ended up being inconsequential, but scientists are concerned about any alterations that could make the virus more contagious or make the available vaccines less effective. Evidence from the U.K. has shown that one such variant, known as B.1.1.7, spreads more easily from person to person, although it doesn't seem to make people sicker and it appears to be susceptible to vaccines. A report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the U.K. variant could become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March. New variants have also been reported in South Africa, Brazil and the U.S., with a flurry of research underway to characterize the changes. Early lab experiments suggest that the vaccines made by Pfizer and BioNTech and by Moderna may be less effective against the variant identified in South Africa, but the research wasn't done in humans, and the findings have yet to be peer-reviewed. As variants emerge, it will be crucial to adhere to measures to slow the virus's spread and pick up the pace of vaccinations to keep all of those figures from spiking, said coronavirus modeler Alessandro Vespignani, director of Northeastern University's Network Science Institute. That's because a more contagious variant is likely to result in more cases overall, which adds even more strain on health care systems that are already overburdened. "It's a bit of a race against the emergence of new strains that are more transmissible," Vespignani said. "If we roll out the vaccine fast enough and keep epidemic levels low, that will also slow down the variants and buy us more time." The distribution of vaccines has been problematic, with some states running out of their supplies while others have struggled to administer all the doses they were receiving. And there are concerns that the U.S. isn't doing enough to track genetic changes in the virus by sequencing genetic codes. Not knowing specifically what variants are present in the country makes it harder to protect those at risk, said former CDC official Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the University of Washington. It also makes it more challenging for modelers to project how the pandemic may unfold. "If we don't stay on top of what's circulating, we may have a homegrown variant that is more transmissible than the one we've seen in the U.K., and we wouldn't know," he said. Mokdad is part of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which developed one of the most widely cited coronavirus models. Its current projection shows that while the number of new infections is decreasing in the U.S., Covid-19 deaths aren't expected to peak until early March. Still, Mokdad said, there are ways the U.S. can avoid additional spikes in hospitalizations and deaths, even with the emergence of new variants. "We have to do what we know is effective social distancing and wearing a mask," he said. "We can't celebrate prematurely, because if everyone assumes the worst is behind us, that's when we'll see peaks again." And although models anticipate that deaths will continue to rise for several more weeks, it's possible to flatten the curve if people remain vigilant, Vespignani said. "Every forecast is not a deterministic outcome," he said. "We can do something to change the trajectory."
McConnell wants to push Trump's Senate impeachment trial to mid-February - NBC News
McConnell’s proposal is a deal to give both sides time to prepare for former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial should start in mid-February, timing he laid out during a conference call with Republican colleagues Thursday, multiple sources on the call said. Included in McConnell's proposal is a deal to begin the Senate proceedings in February so both sides can properly prepare for Trump's second impeachment trial, multiple people on the call said. Schumer could be open to the proposal, giving him more time to confirm President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., who was on the call, said his understanding was that McConnell, R-Ky., briefed the conference before going to Schumer, D-N.Y. "I think we know that we want to make sure that if the Democrats are going to do this impeachment that the president has a right to due process. And in order to do that, he has to prepare a case, they've got to set up the rules and so forth, so I think it'd be very difficult to start before then," Rounds said. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., also said he thinks the trial could begin mid-February. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics McConnell said in a statement Thursday: "Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake. Given the unprecedented speed of the House's process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them. "At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency," the statement said. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., punted on the question of timing when reporters asked them about it earlier Thursday. Pelosi has yet to indicate when she would send the article of impeachment to the Senate, having said only "soon." Schumer's spokesman, Justin Goodman, said: "We received Leader McConnell's proposal that only deals with pre-trial motions late this afternoon. We will review it and discuss it with him." Asked whether President Joe Biden would support moving the trial to February, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield reiterated what Biden has previously said, that he will leave it up to Senate leadership to determine the mechanics and the timing. Bedingfield said Biden wants the Senate to conduct the trial in a way that allows it to move forward with Covid-19 relief legislation as quickly as possible.
Experts praise Biden's Covid-19 plan, but warn that undoing Trump-era mistakes will take time - NBC News
President Joe Biden's plan to fight Covid-19 was praised by public health experts, who warn that trust in science eroded under Trump and that a mask mandate will be a tough sell.
President Joe Biden's battle plan to beat Covid-19 is "spot on," but restoring Americans' trust in "science-based leadership" won't be easy after four years of Donald Trump, public health experts said Thursday. "The single most important thing the Biden administration needs to do to fight the pandemic is communicate honestly and openly with the American people about what needs to be done," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. "The constant obfuscation and misinformation from the Trump administration, all the 'this is a hoax' stuff, that killed our pandemic response." Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer and senior vice president at Northwell Health, said in an email: "The plan put forward by President Biden and his team of experts is spot on. It is based on the recommendations of leading scientific and health care experts and should have been the plan all along." Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak The experts weighed in as Biden, on the first full day of his presidency, signed 10 executive orders aimed at, among other things, boosting vaccine production and distribution and mandating masks in airports and on airplanes, trains and maritime vessels. As of Thursday afternoon, 24.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 had been reported in the United States, with 407,384 deaths, according to the latest NBC News statistics. Both are world-leading figures. "We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it is going to take months to get it turned around," Biden said, warning that the country is likely to top 500,000 deaths next month. "But let me be equally clear: We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic." Biden's 198-page strategy to end the pandemic was boiled down to seven key points. Polly Price, a professor of law and public health at Emory University, said three points in particular increasing Covid-19 testing, using the Defense Production Act to boost the supply of personal protective equipment and injecting billions of dollars and technical aid from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into vaccine distribution will be music to the ears of state and local governments. "State officials and public health experts have begged for these three actions in particular," Price said in an email. Biden's team said the Trump administration left the job of getting vaccination shots into Americans' arms up to state and local governments, which has led to distribution problems. "What we're inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined," Jeffrey Zients, Biden's Covid-19 coordinator, said Thursday on a call with reporters. Price said that an executive order alone won't solve the problem and that "adequate funding and technical assistance from CDC vaccination programs will be needed in most states to improve distribution" especially if Biden is to meet his ambitious goal of giving 100 million vaccination shots in 100 days, which would be a huge jump from the 17.5 million shots administered since the vaccines became available Dec. 14. A far heavier lift, Price said, will be Biden's goal of establishing "mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors." "The White House task force under President Trump issued weekly reports to states, urging mask mandates and enhanced social distancing," Price said. "These advisories were ignored in numerous instances, probably because of inconsistent messaging from the President and sidelining of the CDC in favor of what seemed a 'politically' run task force from the White House. Restoring trust in CDC guidance and a scientific-based leadership role will be tough." Trump was branded as the world's biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation last year by researchers at the Cornell Alliance for Science. They found that nearly 38 percent of the "misinformation conversation" began with Trump's doing things like promoting unproven miracle cures for Covid-19, downplaying the coronavirus danger or claiming with zero evidence that the pandemic was a Democratic Party hoax aimed at derailing his presidency. Trump also hobbled the drive to get Americans to don masks by refusing to wear one regularly at public events, even after he caught the virus himself. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top epidemiologist, who survived a White House attempt to undermine him, said Thursday that Biden appears to be cut from a different cloth. "One of the new things about this administration is that, if you don't know the answer, don't guess," said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Just say you don't know the answer." Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said Biden's plan "offers hope for a systematic and scientific approach to mitigating the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic and is a welcome change." "The plan focuses on hitting critical needs for a strong public health response, such as a universal mandate for masking," Khan said. "There is good data that there is no harm or risk from wearing a mask and there is great benefit." Still, she cautioned, "while the plan outlines the critical issues, it lacks a clear action plan on how to accomplish these things." "But, for the first time in four years, the plan offers a commitment to trust science, review available evidence and promote equity and access to health care," she said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says he feels liberated to speak freely about science, risk of Covid under Biden - NBC News
"Completely transparent": Fauci celebrates the new commitment to facts and science under Joe Biden.
WASHINGTON Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the governments top public health experts, signaled that he feels free to speak honestly about Covid-19 now that former President Donald Trump is out of office. In his first news briefing since President Joe Biden was sworn in, Fauci said that the new administration was committed to being "completely transparent, open and honest," a sharp break from the Trump White House, when Fauci said he often felt there would be repercussions for speaking honestly about the pandemic. "It was very clear that there were things said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact," Fauci told reporters, speaking about the Trump administration. "The idea that you can get up and talk about what you know, what the evidence is, what the science is," Fauci continued, "it is somewhat of a liberating feeling." Fauci helped lead the nation's response to the coronavirus when the pandemic hit nearly a year ago, working alongside Trump and members of his White House coronavirus task force. But the relationship was rocky. Trump was criticized for spreading false or misleading information about the pandemic, frequently contradicting warnings from Fauci and other experts that the situation was dire and needed to be taken seriously. He often refused to wear a mask and ultimately caught the virus himself. Early on in the pandemic, Fauci often appeared alongside Trump in the briefing room as he used the platform to give long-winded news conferences aimed at touting his own record as president while he was on lockdown in Washington and unable to campaign in-person for his re-election. Those news conference often put Fauci in a difficult position, as he attempted to delicately push back on Trump's inaccurate claims on live television. There was frequent speculation that Trump would fire Fauci for contradicting him. Fauci said that just 15 minutes before the news conference he had met with Biden and discussed how "everything we do will be based on science and evidence." "One of the new things about this administration is that if you don't know the answer, don't guess. Just say you don't know the answer," Fauci said in response to a reporter's question on a matter he was unaware of. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Fauci and other public health officials will make more regular appearances in the briefing room to discuss the coronavirus after the Trump administration largely declined to update the public in its final months.
New CDC director says Covid vaccine won't be in every pharmacy by late February - NBC News
The new director of the CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February.
The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the Covid-19 vaccine would not be widely available by late February as the Trump administration previously said. The new administration is determined to meet the goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in 100 days, Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Savannah Guthrie on NBC's "TODAY" show. However, the shots won't be available for just anyone in pharmacies, like the flu vaccine is, by late February, as former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Guthrie last month. "We are going to, as part of our plan, put the vaccine in pharmacies. Will it be in every pharmacy in this country by that timeline? I don't think so," Walensky said. "I don't think late February, we're going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country." "After 100 days, there are still a lot of Americans who need vaccine, so we have our pedal to the metal to make sure that we can get as much vaccine out there," she said. "We recognize this is the most immediate emergency to get this country back to health." According to Walensky, the work to meet the 100-day goal "had already begun" and the main points of the plan are to make sure vaccine eligibility meets supply, that there are enough vaccinators and that vaccine sites are "diverse so that we can get to all people." "The whole basis for how we do vaccine rollout has to be based on equity and were committed to that," she said. A main goal is to help people who have "vaccine hesitancy" by educating them on the science so they better understand the vaccine, according to Walensky. The administration also has to pinpoint and fix distribution problems by making sure the vaccine, the syringes and the demand for the shots all line up at specific sites, she said. "Weve been meeting daily at least for six weeks or so. So that work has begun already, so we are on the ground," Walensky said. "The plan was not to start planning toady. The plan is to start working today and to get it out to the people." Walensky, an infectious diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was sworn in Wednesday when the U.S. reported 4,131 coronavirus-related deaths, setting a record for the most COVID-19 deaths recorded in a single day. Walensky said that at the current pace, 100,000 more coronavirus-related deaths could be expected by the middle or end of February.
'Celebrating America': Top moments from Biden's presidential inauguration special - NBC News
"Celebrating America," a 90-minute special that aired across several networks Wednesday night, brought together a mix of A-list talent and average Americans.
Every four years, thousands throng to Washington for a whirl of Inauguration Day balls and concerts. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to force most big-ticket national events to scale down, President Joe Biden's inaugural committee decided to take the festivities to TV screens. "Celebrating America," a 90-minute special that aired across several networks Wednesday night, brought together a mix of A-list talent Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Demi Lovato and average Americans from all walks of life, including teachers and nurses on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis. The special, which moved swiftly (more or less) between genre-spanning live performances and recorded video segments, was as much a celebration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' ascent to the White House as it was a reflection of the new president's political persona. The musical selections frequently returned to themes of hope in the face of darkness and better days ahead. In an echo of Biden's rhetoric about the pandemic, many of the featured songs emphasized the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. "It's times like these you learn to love again," Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl sang, later adding: "I'm a new day rising." Broadway stars joined via videoconferencing for a performance of "Let the Sunshine In" from the musical "Hair." Jon Bon Jovi covered The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." Biden's personal touch was especially evident in a brief segment about halfway through the event: "Hamilton" maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda recited "The Cure at Troy" by Biden's favorite Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. The entertainment spectacle was capped by a spectacular fireworks display that lit up the nation's capital. Here's a look at other key moments: Springsteen sings in front of the Lincoln Memorial Bruce Springsteen kicked off the special with a soulful rendition of "Land of Hope and Dreams," a track suffused with equal parts melancholy and optimism. "Leave behind your sorrows / Let this day be the last / Tomorrow there'll be sunshine / And all this darkness past," Springsteen sang, strumming on his guitar and standing alone in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The lyrics were a fitting thematic setup for the night. Bruce Springsteen sings during the "Celebrating America" special.Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images Springsteen, who publicly supported Biden's presidential bid, narrated and provided the soundtrack for a 60-second campaign advertisement titled "Hometown," which spotlighted Biden's native Scranton, Pennsylvania. The commercial featured the song "My Hometown" from his album "Born in the U.S.A." "Land of Hope and Dreams," written in 1999, has previously been used in other political contexts. John Kerry used the song as introductory music during his 2004 presidential campaign. President Barack Obama played the track after his farewell address in 2017. Tom Hanks speaks to intense national divisions Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks hosted the special, introducing guests and segments in a no-frills style. He formally started the night with some earnest thoughts about the social friction across the U.S., however. Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks hosted the "Celebrating America" special.Biden Inaugural Committee "The last few weeks and the last few years, we've witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land," Hanks said, referring to the violence at the U.S. Capitol and, presumably, the Trump era as a whole. "But tonight we ponder the United States of America. "The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hopes and dreams we all share for a more perfect union," Hanks added. Hanks and his wife, fellow actor Rita Wilson, were the first major Hollywood celebrities to announce that they had tested positive for Covid-19 in March. Teen who spoke at DNC reads part of JFK speech Brayden Harrington, the 13-year-old boy who on the final night of the Democratic National Convention shared his story about how Biden helped him with his stutter, appeared in a video segment and read an excerpt from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address. Brayden, clad in a gingham bow tie and a dark suit jacket, was widely celebrated on Twitter, where political commentators praised him for his poise and bravery. Biden, who has struggled with his stutter for many years, met Brayden in New Hampshire last year. He appeared during the DNC and urged viewers to vote for Biden even though he is not old enough to register to vote. Three former presidents come together Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appeared in a recorded video to extol the virtues of American democracy and the peaceful transition of presidential power. "The fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country," Bush said, implicitly nodding to Donald Trump's refusal to concede the election and the riot at the Capitol he helped inspire. Clinton called on people of all ideological stripes to unite in a spirit of cooperation: "It's a new beginning. Everybody needs to get off their high horse and reach out to their friends and neighbors and try to make it possible." Obama offered a personal message to his former vice president: "Joe, I'm proud of you."
World leaders congratulate Biden, some take shots at Trump - NBC News
As Joe Biden was sworn in as U.S. 46th president, world leaders greeted his inauguration with a mixture of hope, relief and parting shots at Donald Trump.
LONDON It was a sigh heard round the world With almost palpable relief, longstanding American allies welcomed Joe Biden as he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday. Some signaled hopes for a radical change in the White House, particularly in its approach to climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. And a few took parting shots at Donald Trump and his nationalist, "America first" agenda. The European Union's top politician, Ursula von der Leyen, said that "after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House." "This time-honored ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol will be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy," she added in a speech in Brussels. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.JULIEN WARNAND / AFP - Getty Images Spains prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, meanwhile, said that Biden represented "victory of democracy over the ultra-right." Then he took aim directly at the former president. "Five years ago, we thought Trump was a bad joke, but five years later we realized he jeopardized nothing less than the world's most powerful democracy," he said in a speech. References to tensions between Europe and the U.S. under Trump, who accused the European Union of trying to take advantage of America and said European allies "never treated us well," were a striking departure from past congratulatory messages. But they reflected the alarm that many on the continent felt as Trump broke with longstanding norms and made common cause with the far right alarm that turned into horror as the insurrectionist mob encouraged by Trump overtook the Capitol on Jan. 6. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier echoed these concerns as he said he was "greatly relieved" and suggested that many of his fellow countrymen felt the same way. "Despite all the joy we feel today, we must not forget that even the most powerful democracy in the world has been seduced by populism," he said as Biden prepared to be sworn in. "We must work resolutely to counter polarization, protect and strengthen the public square in our democracies, and shape our policies on the basis of reason and facts. Calling it a "significant day for the American people," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that his country was "together" with them. "We will be stronger to face the challenges of our time. Stronger to build our future. Stronger to protect our planet," he said, before welcoming the U.S. back to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Some world leaders particularly those who had closer relations with Trump issued more standard statements of congratulations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "Americas leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to Covid." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had "a warm personal friendship going back many decades" with Biden. Congratulations to @JoeBiden on being sworn in as President of the United States and to @KamalaHarris on her historic inauguration. Americas leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with President Biden. Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 20, 2021 Officials in China, which saw relations with the U.S. sour dramatically over the past four years, were more circumspect, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying that Beijing hoped Biden would push "relations back to the right track as soon as possible." For some American rivals, the inauguration Wednesday was less a moment to congratulate Biden and more an opportunity to lay into Trump and his foreign policies. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also urged the incoming administration to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Tehran, while welcoming the end of "tyrant" President Donald Trump's era. "The ball is in the U.S. court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact," Rouhani said in a televised Cabinet meeting. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that governs the blockaded Gaza Strip, said Trump had been "the biggest source and sponsor of injustice, violence and extremism in the world and the direct partner of the Israeli occupation in the aggression against our people. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.