tv CBS Evening News With Norah O Donnell CBS February 25, 2021 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by cbs >> o'donnell: tonight, the growing concern about the coronavirus in new york city as we learn some good news: the number of covid deaths in nursing home nationwide is down 66%. president biden marks the milestone of 50 million shots since he took office, as experts study what new variants mean for vaccines and treatments. blowing up the capitol? the warning tonight that militia groups have threatened to destroy the building while president biden addresses congress. u.s. gymnastics scandal: the former head coach of the women's gymnastics team found dead, hours after he's charged with sexual assault and human trafficking. stop asian hate. after a rise in attacks against
asian americans, the viral campaign to stop violence during the covid-19 pandemic. border crossings climb. our report tonight from the u.s.-mexico border, as the biden administration reopens a facility to house migrant children. soldiers struggling. our series on the families of those who defend our nation. >> i cannot feed my kids. >> o'donnell: tonight, the military responds to why a growing number of families are going hungry. half a million dollar reward. lady gaga's two french bulldogs stolen. tonight, the graphic new video shows the moment her dog walker was shot. >> help me, i've been shot! and, a dedication to service. meet the military veterans who drove 1,500 miles to help texans after the storm. this is the "cbs evening news" with norah o'donnell, reporting from the nation's capital.
>> o'donnell: good evening to our viewers in the west and thank you for joining us. we're going to begin tonight with what could be a dramatic new setback in the fight against coronavirus. researchers say they've now discovered a new variant of the virus in new york city, and that it is spreading quickly. even more frightening, current vaccines may not be as effective at fighting it. the nation's top infectious disease doctor, anthony fauci, said today the best way to stop the new variants from spreading is to get americans vaccinated as fast as possible. and as we come on the air tonight, the f.d.a. is taking a big step to making that happen. the agency now says pfizer's vaccine no longer has to be shipped or stored at sub-zero temperatures. that's a huge breakthrough that will make it easier to get shots to sites across the u.s. and we're also learning that pfizer and moderna are now working on possible booster shots of their vaccines. that could mean getting a third dose to help fight off these new variants. now at the white house tonight, president biden is celebrating, saying 50 million shots have now been given out nationwide since
he took office, half of the 100 million he promised to deliver in his first 100 days. now, combined with the shots given out during the trump administration, that means nearly 68 million doses have been administered across the country. we've got a lot of new reporting for you and your family tonight. we've got our team of correspondents standing by. cbs' meg oliver is going to lead off our coverage from new york city. good evening, meg. >> reporter: norah, good evening. new york city health officials are trying to learn more about this new variant and just how prevalent it is. researchers here at columbia medical center told me, in the last two weeks, they've seen a 13% increase in the number of new cases. tonight, an east and west coast punch of new covid variants. first, a new strain in california, and now a home-grown mutation is spreading in new york city. dr. david ho's team at columbia university was one of the first to detect the mutation, noting similarities to the more-
contagious south african and brazilian strains. >> we don't know whether it's more transmissible, but we see it rising in prevalence within our patient population. >> reporter: dr. ho says the mutation, seen here in red, alters the spike protein, which enables the virus to dodge antibodies. that could result in a weaker immune response. so if you've received a vaccine, you could get reinfected. >> well, we don't know that for sure, but the south african study, with the south african variant showed that protection drops from 90-plus percen to about 49%. >> reporter: tonight, the f.d.a. approved pfizer's request to store its vaccine in pharmacy freezers for two weeks, instead of ultra-cold specialized units. this as pfizer and moderna are testing whether a booster shot of their vaccines can protect against the variant identified in south africa. >> what we care about is making
sure people don't get sick, they don't get hospitalized. and of course, most importantly, that they don't die. >> reporter: still, the death toll in california reached new heights today, the first state to surpass 50,000 after a backlog of reported deaths. it comes despite a steep drop in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide, especially in nursing homes, where deaths are down 66% in long-term care facilities. today, president biden marked the cusp of 50 million first- dose vaccinations with a ceremony of shots going into arms. >> and the more people get vaccinated, the faster we're going to beat this pandemic. >> reporter: the half-way point to 100 million doses in his first 100 days. meg oliver, cbs news, new york. >> reporter: i'm charlie d'agata in oxford, england, where astrazeneca tells cbs news they expect data from u.s. trials in the coming weeks to present to the f.d.a. for emergency approval. oxford scientists say the
vaccine has already tackled what had been the runaway u.k. variant here. real-life data showing it kept hospitalizations down by 94%, even outperforming the pfizer vaccine. >> we've seen the first widespread use of a vaccine in a setting where there's a new variant that's emerged, and the vaccine has impact against that variant that is astonishing. >> reporter: the team here telling us they began the fight back against dangerous new variants months ago. the development already in the lab. >> yes. >> reporter: including the south african variant. >> we started in december. we started working on the variants in december. >> reporter: oxford vaccine developer professor sarah gilbert told us a modified vaccine could be rolled out in the u.s. in a matter of months. by the fall? >> the plan is to have a new version of the vaccine available for the autumn, i would call it, of this year. >> reporter: the professors told us that the 12-week gap between doses here in the u.k. is better
than the four-week plan which is standard in the u.s. more people are immunized in the short term, and that reduces the chances of the virus mutating. norah. >> o'donnell: charlie d'agata, thank you. tonight, we are learning the extraordinary security at the u.s. capitol will continue at least until next month. more than seven weeks after the armed insurrection, there is concern the danger is far from over. cbs' kris van cleave reports from the capitol. >> reporter: tonight, what a lawmaker calls new and disturbing threats targeting congress, nearly two months after the capitol attack. >> members of the militia groups that were present on january 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the capitol and kill as many members as possible, with a direct nexus to the state of the union. >> reporter: president biden's address to congress has not been scheduled, but the elevated security posture around the capitol will stay in place at least through the speech.
acting chief of capitol police yogananda pittman acknowledged the department knew militia groups and other extremists were heading their way on january 6. >> these groups planned to be armed. the target of the demonstration would be congress. >> reporter: more than 10,000 descended on the capitol grounds. around 800 forced their way in. that includes two former rocky mount, virginia police officers, who pleaded not guilty today to charges they were in the capitol. pittman said undercover capitol police were sent to surveill the crowd at president trump's rally that morning and intercepted demonstrators' radio communications. officers guarding congressional leaders also had been issued assault rifles. yet pittman said her force was still unprepared for the onslaught. >> no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the u.s. capitol. >> the intelligence missteps cascaded into inadequate preparation, which placed the health and lives of frontline officers at risk. >> reporter: the acting chief said even if her command staff
had gotten that f.b.i. memo that warned some rioters were coming ready for war, she says it was consistent with other intelligence they already had, so it would not have changed the capitol police plan for the sixth. norah. >> o'donnell: kris van cleave, thank you. we have breaking news just coming in, let's go to the cbs news desk for the latest details. >> i'm ed o'keefe in washington. tonight u.s. officials confirm airstrikes on multiple sites in syria linked to malitias. it was carried out in response to recent attacks in iraq. it was the first military action ordered by president biden. the pentagon says he ordered the strike earlier thursday and described it as a proportionary military response.
and that the president will act to pr and tonight, there's a shocking twist in the ongoing investigations into the sexual assault of female gymnasts. john geddert, the 2012 u.s. olympic gymnastics coach, died by suicide today, just as he was expected to turn himself in to face multiple felony counts, including human trafficking. geddert worked with the disgraced doctor larry nassar, who is in prison for molesting gymnasts. geddert was accused of coercing girls to train at his michigan gym, then verbally and physically abusing them. all right, tonight, cbs news is investigating the troubling rise in anti-asian attacks. hate crimes against asian americans have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. we get more now on this from cbs' jamie yuccas. >> reporter: the owner at this butcher shop in sacramento says she's frightened after security cameras captured a man tossing a dead cat in her parking lot. >> do you feel like this is a hate crime? >> of course. there's really no doubt about it. >> reporter: more than 3,000
hate incidents directed at asian americans nationwide have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, according to one advocacy group. a 91-year-old asian man in oakland was thrown to the ground. in new york city, an asian american woman was violently assaulted in broad daylight. and this violent attack on 84-year-old vicha ratanapakdee, a thai american, who later died from his injuries. >> with the china virus. >> reporter: some blame the rise of anti-asian american discrimination on the former president's rhetoric. >> kung flu. >> watching this violence against asian americans is just so upsetting. >> reporter: tam nguyen is part of a community organization that's working to raise awareness about anti-asian hate crimes. there's also a twitter campaign. >> whether it's speaking up, whether it's sharing, or whether it's lending a hand and reaching out to your asian americand and friends. >> reporter: the victims also
include air force vet denny kim, assaulted last week in los angeles. >> it's absolutely senseless, and it really breaks my heart. >> reporter: this week, california's governor signed a bill into law that will devote nearly $1.5 million to tracking anti-asian hate crimes. lawmakers hope the information gathered will ultimately lead to solutions that will make communities safer. norah. >> o'donnell: jamie yuccas, thank you so much. and tonight, the biden administration is allowing some asylum seekers who've been waiting at a camp in mexico to cross into the u.s. to have their asylum request processed. it comes as border crossings are the largest they've been in a january in the past decade. cbs' mireya villarreal went to the border to find out what is happening. >> reporter: these are the faces of some of the first asylum seekers in south texas, dozens who were living in limbo in this mexican border camp under what the trump administration called the migrant protection protocols. now one step closer to having their cases heard, some waiting
years. the trump administration's policy sent more than 70,000 people back to mexico, creating a bottleneck of cases. >> now people in the camp are remaining in place because they're currently being registered. >> reporter: sam bishop is a former army veteran who says these migrants deserve a fair shot. >> there's a lot of fear here in the u.s. about migration. but these are not the people you need to be worried about, you know. they're trying to do it the right way. they're trying to do it responsibly and in a manner that's consistent with our laws. >> reporter: illegal crossings are also on the rise, with 3,000 arrests, on average, per day in january on the southwest border. >> you have two, okay. >> reporter: some of the families we spoke with say they crossed the border with a smuggler. coyotes are telling these families the border is open under this administration. those illegal crossings further complicate the asylum process. >> it seems very unfair to the people that are still in the encampment, because they have waited to go through a very legal process, and they've been there more than a year and a half now.
>> reporter: is this a by- product of just a system that has had a ton of band-aids but no true solution, no true fix? >> that's true. and mexico said that they would not accept families back with young children anymore. >> reporter: tonight, we've also learned that border crossings by unaccompanied minors, kids who come here alone and without their parents, is on the rise as well. and now the biden administration is under fire from immigration advocates who are upset that they are opening up a facility just outside san antonio, texas, reopening that facility to house those children. norah. >> o'donnell: mireya villarreal, thank you. well, tonight, the white house says president biden has spoken by phone with saudi arabia's king salman. the call comes as the u.s. is set to release an intelligence report as soon as tomorrow that says saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman was responsible for approving the murder of columnist jamal khashoggi. the white house says it intends to recalibrate the u.s.
relationship with the saudis. we've got more now on our investigation into military families who are having trouble getting enough to eat during the pandemic. nearly 40% have had trouble putting food on the table. cbs' mark strassmann continues his reporting tonight, including the military's response. >> beggars can't be choosers. >> reporter: kay is on her way to a food bank again to feed her army family of six. >> for us, it lasts a couple of days, maybe, just because there are so many of us in the house. >> reporter: her husband, an e-5 sergeant, works at j.b.l.m., joint base lewis-mcchord, near tacoma, washington. his take-home pay? roughly $3,000 a month. it's not enough. >> i cannot feed my kids. you know, i cannot make this vehicle payment because i had to feed my kids. it's just unacceptable, really. >> reporter: since the pandemic hit, one study reports nearly 40% of active-duty service members have food insecurity. is there a food bank on post? >> there is not.
>> reporter: do you track food insecurity at j.b.l.m.? >> we don't track that. >> reporter: at j.b.l.m., colonel trey rutherford, chief of staff for the seventh infantry division. the army emergency relief program offers struggling families help with budgeting and loans for food. >> we challenge families to have the courage to trust in us, to trust in their leaders, to help them solve the challenges. and they need to feel comfortable saying, "hey, family, i need some assistance." >> reporter: but military culture prizes resilience. asking for help can feel taboo. >> so in kind of talking to other spouses, it was kind of like, no, that's kind of hush- hush. >> reporter: in this pandemic, many military spouses lost jobs. j.b.l.m. has tracked 350 families, down from two incomes to one. >> they are challenged. they are squeezed. and we must get better, and we will get better. >> reporter: congresswoman marilyn strickland's district includes j.b.l.m. >> the people who are serving our country should not have to worry about food on the table. >> reporter: but last december, congress failed to approve a
military family basic needs allowance. kay has cut family meals to two a day. >> it was hardest for the little one, just because she doesn't understand, you know, "i'm hungry, and i always eat when i'm hungry." >> reporter: serving their country, but struggling to serve their own family. mark strassmann, cbs news, atlanta. >> o'donnell: and so many of you have reached out wanting to help. you can go to combatmilitaryhunger.org. there is still much more news ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news." dramatic video shows the moment a gunman shot lady gaga's dog walker and then took off with two of herer dogsgs. my psoriatic arthritis, made m my joints stiff, swollen... painful. emerge tremfyant™ with t tremfya®,, adults w with moderarate to s severe plaqaque psoriasas. ...can u uncover clelearer skind imimprove sympmptoms at 1616 w.
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of duty. >> reporter: while watching the devastating texas storm on tv, marine corps veteran liz hensel made a decision. she called close friend david pineda, a disabled army veteran. >> i said, let's rally the troops. >> reporter: with help from friends, they rented a truck and filled it with essentials. >> 97 cases of water. we took blankets, socks, diapers. >> reporter: even dog food. >> pets are a huge part of our lives, as you can clearly see. >> reporter: hensel and two other marine veterans then drove 22 hours straight through the night to a community center in austin. >> this is exactly what the families are asking for. >> reporter: how did it make you feel, to do this? >> like we're back in action. we're still in service. we're just doing it in a different way. >> reporter: a different way for these veterans to serve their country. chip reid, cbs news, woodbridge, virginia. >> o'd'donnell: how w grateful e we for ourur veterans?s? just amazing. we'll be right back. ight back.
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right now at seven pick another day and yet another shocking crime targeting an asian american here in the bay area. >> she is scared, she shaken up. >> she has come to the police department in my career here and asked us several times in the various years to run dna check on him. a bay area crime victim who never gave up, how her persistence helped track down her suspected attacker after more than 30 years. and just hours away