tv PBS News Hour PBS February 24, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
♪ judy: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, the biden agenda. the president continues toush for covid relief and a minimum wage increase as a cabinet nominee faces opposition in the senate. then, getting the vaccine. as the first shipment of doses arrives in africa, global disparities and uneven distribution become more visible and, a painful legacy. the pandemic highlights the discrimination faced by african americans in the health system as black patients struggle for equal access to medical care. >> it has laid bare the inequities in american society. it has laid bare inequities in terms of access to health care. it has laid bare inequities in terms of employment.
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broadcasting and contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. stephanie: i'm stephanie sy with newshour west. we'll return to the rest of the show after these headlines. this evening, texas governor greg abbott pledged to overhaul the state's power grid operator, after massive storms last week left millions of residents without power. after initially singling out frozen wind turbines for failing, abbott clarified the facts. >> power generation from all sources buckled under the harsh freezing winter weather. that includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, as well as wind and solar. each of these power sources failed to fully produce because of inadequate safeguards. stephanie: abbott called on the texas legislature to prioritize funding the winterization of the state's power infrastructure. there's been movement on several
fronts in the pandemic today. alaska governor mike dunleavy was diagnosed with covid, according to his office. he's experiencing mild symptoms, and is resting at home. the white house announced plans to deliver more than 25 million face masks to hard-hit minority communities. and, the food and drug administration reported johnson & johnson's vaccine is 66% effective against moderate and severe symptoms. the company, we should note, is a "newshour" funder. the fda could grant emergency approval for the new vaccine on friday. >> if authorized, we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay. we anticipate allocating 3 to 4 million doses of johnson & johnson vaccine next week. johnson & johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of march. stephanie: officials also announced the national institutes of health will research lingering symptoms of
the covid symptoms, including breathing trouble, malaise, and brain fog. and, ghana became the first nation to receive vaccine shipments from the covax initiative, designed to aid poor nations. we'll focus on vaccine equity later in the program. president biden signed an executive order today to review supply chains for surgical masks, computer chips, and other critical goods. the signing ceremony followed a meeting with lawmakers on the problem. mr. biden voiced concern about america's reliance on foreign manufacturers. the president's attempt to halt most immigrant deportations for 100 days is now on hold indefinitely. late tuesday, a federal judge in texas barred enforcement of the moratorium. the state had claimed that the pause would violate federal law and cost the state more money. president biden also faces growing questions about neera tanden's chances of leading the office of management and budget. two senate pans abruptly postponed votes on the nomination today, but the white house dismissed questions about a possible replacement.
>> the stage we're in is working to continue to fight for her nomination. and, as you know, it's a numbers game, right? it's a matter of getting one republican to support her nomination. we're continuing to do that outreach, answer questions they have, and continue to reiterate her qualifications. stephanie: the nominee for cia director, william burns, says the u.s. must confront what he calls "predatory" leadership in china. he told his senate confirmation hearing today that china's technological ambitions and -- make it a long-term competitor. >> the challenge posed by xi jinping's china, by an adversarial china, it's hard for me to see a more significant threat or challenge for the united states, as far out as i can see into the 21st century, than that one. it is the biggest geo-political test that we face. stephanie: burns also called for closing chinese-backed cultural centers, known as confucius institutes, at u.s. universies.
he charged they are, essentially, propaganda tools. a former staffer for new york governor andrew cuomo has escalated her accusation against him of sexual harassment. lindsey boylan posted online today that cuomo kissed her, repeatedly touched her, and once joked they should play strip poker. cuomo's office said the claims are, quote, "quite simply false." a federal grand jury in minneapolis will hear testimony in the death of george floyd, in a renewed civil rights investigation. "the new york times" and others report a main focus is derek chauvin, the white former police officer who held floyd down as he struggled to breathe. chauvin already faces state murder charges. more than 80,000 victims of california wildfires sued former managers of pacific gas and electric today for dereliction of duty. the utility's equipment ignited fires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed 25,000 homes in 2017 and 2018.
the suit names nearly 2 dozen former executives and board members. and fanne foxe, the stripper at the center of one of washington's most infamous scandals, has died. her affair with powerful arkansas congressman wilbur mills burst into public view in 1974, when police pulled over their limousine, and foxe leaped out of the car, and into the washington tidal basin. the incident ultimately ended mills' career. fanne foxe was 84 years old. still to come on the "newshour" with judy woodruff. we speak to a key senator in the negotiations for a massive covid relief bill. outcry over global disparities revealed by the uneven distribution of covid vaccines. the pandemic highlights discrimination faced by african americans in the u.s. health care system. and much more. ♪ >> this is the pbs newshour
west, from the walter cronkite school of journalism at arizona state university. judy: it's a busy week on capitol hill, with a full slate of confirmation hearings on biden nominees and a possible house vote on the covid economic relief plan. here with an update on it all is our congressional correspondent, lisa desjardins. hello, lisa. as the house prepares to vote on this $1.9 trillion covid relief package, remind us, what are the big items in this, and what are the sticking points? lisa: the house of representatives is set to vote on friday couple days from now. i want to remind people this will affect most americans if it gets through, and it looks like some parts of it will. in the house bill, 1400 dollars direct payments to most americans.
also unemployment, those on unemployment will get an added $400 per week come up for -- from $300 per week that is running out in march. for vaccines and testing, tens of millions of dollars, over $70 billion to help manufacture vaccines, get them out and also to test americans and kind of try to have the first full throated effort at contact tracing through the country. it is a vigorous, huge bill, but another issue in the bill that we are watching is the fight about the minimum wage. democrats would like to double, some democrats, doubled the minimum wage to $15 per hour and right now that is in this coronavirus relief measure. the fate of that probably rests with the senate. here is wha will happen. there is a single person who will make the decision because democrats in the senate want to use a 50 vote process called budget reconciliation.
that is a way to get around the filibuster that requires 60 votes. to use that process, the senate parliamentarian of all people will decide if the minimum wage hike actually qualifies. what is the criteria? the key issue is whether or not the minimum wage hike erect lee affects the budget. does it change revenues, add to costs? therefore, will it qualify? democrats and republicans had a rare behind closed doors meeting with staffers, each making their case almost law & order style to the senate armamentarium -- parliamentarian, who is now deciding what she will do. the entire congress is waiting on her decision to see if the minimum wage hike has a shot in the senator not. judy: a lot riding on that. meantime, we know the president is very focused on getting his nominees for the cabinet through
. almost halfway through with confirmation. remind us where all that stands. lisa: so far president biden has gotten nine of his cabinet level nominees confirmed. there are another 14 waiting to go through. some of them, like merrick garland for attorney general, look like they are on a glide path. tonight an energy nominee also has a key procedural vote in the senate. but there is one that seems to be having the most trouble and that is neera tanden, nominated for the office of management and budget, because of her partisan and sharp tweets. there is a democrat, joe mansion, who says he won't support her which mns they need a republican on board. all eyes are on lisa murkowski of alaska. deb haaland, up for interior secretary, joe mansion, the key senator has said he supports
her. looks like the haaland nomination is on a better path. but president biden isn't backing down from either one. judy: you are watching every bit of it. thank you so much, lisa. and with the senate evenly split 50-50, moderate senators have become key to getting the president's covid bill passed and his cabinet nominees approved. a short time ago, i spoke with one of those lawmakers, democrat jon tester of montana. senator, welcome to the newshour. let's start by asking about president biden's covid economic relief plan. looks as if pretty much all of the republicans are opposed. what do you think needs to be done to it to make sure all 50 democrats are on board? >> i think the democrats are on board with the package. there are modifications that n
be made to the package in terms of accountability, but in the end, this package is needed to get vaccines in people's arms, help businesses that are hit hard. it is important for working folks. it is important for education. distance learning and in person learning at the same time costs a lot of money. i think the package is good. i think it is needed. chairman powell and the federal reserve talked about the fact that we needed this to push the economy forward. i think we will get all the democrats. if changes are made it will probably be around accountability and i don't have anything problemith that. judy: you have said in the past you think this should be targeted at people at the lower end of the income scale. it is -- is it sufficiently
targeted now? >> i think it is. i think after talking to the experts i think it is fine. moving forward, i think there is a possibility we could come out of this economic downturwe are in in really good fashion. there is a lot of pent up demand. so moving forward i think we should keep that in mind. we need the package now. maybe in six months we can take another look and see if money is being spent wisely but i think those dollars going to working families, i think they are important and hopefully we can give them the support they need. judy: another part of the plan getting attention is the president's proposal to raise the minimum wage, $15 per hour. you have said you think this needs to be modified by states and regions. what do you think the mimum wage should be?
>> i have supported a minimum wage increase in the past and i think the debate on e minimum wage, if it ends up in the package, and we don't know if the parliamentarian will see if it passed the birdbath, but let's say it ends up in the package. then we need tfigure out how it will be implemented, and in what manner. i think in my opinion, this impacts small businesses in a big way. they have been impacted by the coronavirus in a big way. i think the minimum wage needs to come up and i think we need to extend out a ways before it hits $15. how long the timeframe is is up for debate. judy: is there an amount you think it should start, a base level? >> i mean, look. i'm pretty flexible and workable on this, but $10, $11 per hour
as a base level and going from there would be reasonable to me. judy: sounds like you are a hard no on $15 per hour. >> i don't think it will be $15 per hour implemented tomorrow. there will be plenty of debate on how this gets implemented moving forward. i think there is merit to bringing the minimum wage up. we just have tbe careful so we don't put small businesses in a bad situation. montana is a small business state. we need to make sure small businesses can grow and move forward, but we ne to make sure people are getting aair wage for the work they perform. that is the crux of it all, walking that line then trying to find the sweet spot. judy: senator, i want to ask about president biden's nominees for his cabinet. most of them seem to be moving through smoothly but if you are running into opposition, in particular the nominee for the
office of management and budget. you said you know her, you support her mom about as you know, republicans are saying they don't like the nomination, even a democrat is saying he won't vote for her. the republican argument that she has been to partisan, to negative -- too partisan, tune -- too negative in her tweets, some people are saying republicans are being hypocritical. >> it is a double standard. there are plenty of trump nominees i supported that frankly set a lot of really bad things -- said a lot of really bad things. if you use that as a reason not to confirm people, i pick it is important to be consistent and think back to what you did for some of the nominees president trump put forth. neera tanden speaks her mind and i like that. i hope she gets confirmed
because i think she gets -- she is a talentedady who will do a marvelous job. hopefully we will get her confirmed. judy: at this point, do you think she will be confirmed? how concerned should the white house be? judy: i think they should be concerned, and i think they should try to work this as much as they can. judy: one other question and that is, republicans in the senate, their willingness to work with this new president. how would you characterize that right now? do you think he has the right approach to working with them? >> joe biden is a creature of the senate. i like joe and i think he will reach his hand out across the aisle as much as he can. joe also knows this country has some things that have to be done . that is when he put forth the $1.9 trillion package. i applaud him for his leadership and he has been there since he
was sworn in on the 20th of january. he will try to get folks to work with him, and in the end he understands we have to get things done and we will do what we need to do to get things done. in the end, it will have to work out for the country and i think joe's priorities are right. but as with everybody, we will give input, constructive criticism when we don't agree, and try to move in a direction that works for both the state of montana and the country as a whole. judy: senator jon tester of montana, thank you so much. >> judy, it's a pleasure. think you. -- thank you. ♪ judy: who gets the vaccine, and when, are not only serious questions in the u.s. but also around the globe. a group of rich countries is buying up billions of doses but, as nick
schifrin reports, the united nations is stepping into the breach with its own plan to increase vaccine equity. nick: on a tarmac in western africa, ghanians welcome a european vaccine, delivered by an arab airline, manufactured in india, sponsored by e united nations. that global effort is the un's covax program, and anne-claire dufay is unicef's ghana representative. >> this is really a historic moment. today, we are very happy to receive the first batch of covid-19 vaccines through the covax facility. nick: the 600,000 doses of astrazeneca vaccine is the beginning of what the u.n. calls the largest procurement and distribution and supply operation in world history. it's designed to deliver 1.3 billion vaccines this year to more than 90 low- and middle-income countries. vaccine equity has been a global call. from south africa, which has recorded half of the continent's deaths -- the president says this. >> we are all not safe if some
countries are vaccinating their people, and other countries are not vaccinating. nick: to mexico, which last week received the pfizer vaccine. president andres manuel lopez obrador -- >> these are things that we want to see in the u.n., that there be equity. nick: the u.n. says residents in just 10 countries have received 80% of the world's shots. europe has ordered 2.5 billion doses for only half a billion residents. covax is hampered by that limited supply, and logistical challenges. and the u.n. calls that a "catastrophic moral failure." secretary general antonio gueterres. >> the latest moral outrage is the failure to ensure equity in vaccination efforts. nick: but countries ahead of the curve are pursuing vaccine diplomacy. israel has vaccinated a higher percentage of its population than any country. and now prime minister benjamin netanyahu, who visited aym on sunday, promises to share excess vaccine with partners in the region, and world. russia launched an english language campaign, v for
victory, for its sputnik v vaccine. >> sputnik v is the first registered vaccine against covid-19 in the world. nick: the biggest effort comes from china, whose state television broadcasts deliveries of chinese vaccines all over the world. in the u.s., last week president biden pledged $4 billion to help covax. >> competition must not lock out cooperation on issues that affect us all. nick: for more on all of this, we turn to dr. nahid bhadelia, medical director of the special pathogens unit at boston medical center, and an associate professor of infectious diseases at boston university school of medicine. she also served as a clinician during the ebola outbreaks in west and east africa in 2014 and 2015. welcome vaccine distribution is equitable globally? -- how important is it that vaccine distribution is adequate -- equitable?
>> you have a set up where parts of the world may not get the vaccine for years. you see the protracted pandemic, you can't recover the economy and you continue to lose the gains that have been made in health indicators and education indicators because this is all related. the longer you see turil, not only that, you have countries, entire countries that have not vaccinated any of their alth-care workers because you see losses of health-care health care workers that might affect health indicators in other ways. and there are selfish reasons. one is the variant. we are seeing these variants with increased transmission anywhere in the world, you are going to see new variants appear and that is why equity is important. nick: western countries have bought more vaccines than they have people but there is still a supply shoage, there is still lots of pressure on individual countries and governments to vaccinate their own people. how quickly should western governments be releasing supply?
>> i think the big part of this is every country will have to make a decision. i would say as soon as we can. last week's education -- dedication, the commitment president biden made was important because it then made further commitments possible from europe and others. money is not the only issue because the director general of the who said it is the availability of the vaccines. part of this is going to be tied to how quickly the richer countries can grow manufacturing capacity not just for their own constituents but for the global community. i think we should be donating a portion personally as we go along, because this will help ensure that the resilience remains in the rest of the world and it protects us from the variants. nick: part of the question is the newer vaccines. today, johnson & johnson got pretty good marks from the fda and it doesn't need the
ultracold storage we have seen with previous vaccines. how important is it that the new vaccines come along to try to solve the supply problem? >> well, the big good news about johnson & johnson is not just the fact that it can handle refrigeration at normal rates versus the pfizer vaccine which requires ultra freezing temperatures, which may change because they said they can adapt it for warmer temperatures. but it is also one docent it can reduce risk for hospitalization to 100% after 28 days. it is about the dosing and also because many resources, maintaining the cold chain to the -- to get to the last mile is important. it is important to do that now that astrazeneca and johnson & johnson, and potentially novavax, as well. nick: the vaccine diplomacy, vaccine nationalism, we are seeing russia and china, in
russia, more than two dozen countries have signed up for their vaccine but russia is struggling with creating enough supply and vaccinating its own people. are there countries that are overpromising distribution of vaccines and under delivering? >> currently i think it is a little too early to tell. part of this will be how, not only how much can be sent but how much can be timely distributed in resource limited countries. the thing that worries me in the set ups of more well resourced countries tourist -- distribute them vaccines is we need to make sure it is not tied to other commitments. in all global health diplomacy, you have this give and take but one would hope in the settings, particularly at emergency, where vaccinating everybody is important, secretary get -- secondary gains and political gains are not part of this. nick: thank you very much.
♪ judy: inequities around the world clearly so exist here. black americans have faced discrimination, and even abuse, by medical professionals throughout our country's history. and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these problems have only been magnified. first, we hear from americans who have directly experienced medical discrimination. and then, yamiche alcindor speaks with a doctor who has should studied this painful legacy. >> about 10 years ago, when i was in college, i just started fainting pretty regularly. the very first doctor i saw kind of ignored everything that i said, because she wanted to focus on an std panel, because she was convinced that i had tertiary syphilis at the age of 22.
and i said, don't you have to have that for like 10 years before that would happen? she said yes. i said i wasn't having sex when i was 12. she refused to believe that at that point in my life, i'd only had one partner. and she just was adamant, would not look at any other options. and then at some point in time, i just stopped going to the doctor, and i dealt with not knowing what was wrong with me. sure two years ago, i was at work, and i started -- i couldn't make sentences. i couldn't read. i got rushed to the hospital. they thought i was having a stroke. and it was only then that they determined that i have complex migraines, which mimic other things. >> i had my gallbladder removed. i noticed after i left the hospital, i was in a lot more pain than i thought i should be in. by the fifth day, i was not able to keep any food down. i had a fever of about 103. i reached out to the surgery team. he was just. so dismissive. he wouldn't run any test.
i came home that evening and emailed my doctor, and she made an appointment at a hospital. so they did the proper bloodwork and everything, and determined that i was septic. and the doctor told me, once i made it to the hospital, you couldn't have survived another night like that. >> i had to get a laparoscopic procedure. i remember sitting in e bathroom and feeng like something, like something was falling out. and what iaw like, like, protruding, i was like terrified. so we went to the e.r. the supervising doctor was able to remove it, and it was like a curved metal thing. and the resident comes down, and it's a young white girl. and so she was just, as matter of fact, like, oh, don't worry, it was sterile when we put it in. there was no, like, you know, regard for, hey, that was put in on thursday, and it's not meant
to stay there a couple days later, i am still rain and -- feeling pain and i called the doctor's office. so the doctor calls back and she goes, well, i don't want to give you any more opioids, because i don'want you to develop a habit. what? i don't know, i just felt like it was disrespectful, it was dismissive. >> i felt that it had a lot to do with me being a black woman. and i just wasn't in a position really advocate for myself at that time. i was sick. i was barely standing up. >> i know 100% that the treatment that i would have gotten, the dismissiveness of my symptoms and my health history, and not believing me, would not have happened had i not been a woman of color. >> so i think race sometimes is a roadblock for some people, where they're not able to feel empathy. i would have felt better if she
had a reaction to it, you know, and asked me how i was doing. >> i have a seven year old who, i've taken him. he had a very severe medical issue, and we were repeatedly ignored over and over and over and over again. and it took me bringing his white father to repeat what i've been saying for the three prevus appointments, for them to take it seriously. >> i've been so terrified of getting sick, because i don't want to end up needing a docr, needing to go into a hospital. like, the thought of it gives me so much anxiety. if i end up there again, there's no way that i'm going to survive. like, i got lucky this time. >> my dad got really, really sick from covid, and he was in the icu for 10 days. and for me, there was a fear, because, you know, at this point, nobody was able to go with him. and i can't advocate for my dad. i don't know what his experience is. so it is a fear of, like, how
are they going to treat him? you don't want to have to if you're ever that sick, to put your life in the hands of somebody who might care about that might not even care about your life. yamiche: as we just heard, there is a deep distrust among many african-americans for the medical community. for more on this, i'm joined by dr. vanessa northington gamble. she's a professor at george washington university and a historian of american medicine. thank you so much for being here, dr. gamble. what is the danger in focusing too much on the distrust of black people for the medical health care system, thenather, focusing on the untrustworthiness of the system? >> i think the problem is with this focus on the distrust of african-americans, it becomes like this inherent trait of african-americans that, these distrustful black people, as opposed to focusing on a health care system that does not have trustworthiness. so what has the healthcare system done to engender the trust of african-americans? and by talking about
trustworthiness, it puts the onus on the medical care system to change. yamiche: and there's been a history of the medical system not treating african-americans equally. how has that trauma been passed down by generations of african-americans in this country? >> i think the trauma has been passed down by family stories and family histories. one the major historical events that people talk about is the united states public health service syphilis studyt tuskegee but it's not the only history. and so i think families passed down the stories maybe of the syphilis study, but it might be how their grandmother was treated in the hospital, how their aunt was treated by a physician. the relationship of the african-american community with the medical and public health communities did not begin or end with the syphilis study.
there has been hundreds of years of mistreatment of african-americans within the health care system. yamiche: both the covid-19 pandemic that we're living through now, as well as the 1918 flu pandemic, they both exposed how we treat african-americans in its health care system. tell me a little bit about how those two events relate. >> in 1918, when the flu epidemic hit the united states, first of all, it was the nadir of race relations in the united states, as historians have said. and so this is a time of legal segregation. this is the time of the rise of the klan. this is the time of disenfranchisement of black people. and so in comes this epidemic in 1918. it laid bare the racial inequities in health care, so african americans could not get care in predominantly white hospitals. in washington, they either had
to go to a black hostal such as freedman's hospital, or the public health service paid to have separate hospitals, say, in a school here in washington. yamiche: and what echoes do we see from the 1918 flu pandemic today as we live through the covid-19 pandemic? >> it has laid bare inequities in terms of access to health care. it has laid bare inequities in terms of employment. who are the first line workers? it has led to inequities in terms of like vaccine allocation. the other thing that the 1918 influenza epidemic did, it showed how the black community took care of itself. so you had black doctors and nurses and laypeople taking care of the sick. and you're finding that now with covid-19, where you have black organizations either taking care shirt of black people, or advocating for black people. yamiche: there's also this idea that black bodies are viewed
differently, that they're also treated differently by the health care system. talk a bit about that and what that means when you look at present day, how people are dealing with things. >> there is a long history of black bodies being seen as different within the medical sphere, that black bodies are inferior, that black people are susceptible to particular diseases because of their bodies. you see it and at the end of the civil war, where there was a high incidence of tuberculosis in black people. the medical and public health community said, well, that's because their bodies are inferior. when people say, well, african-americans have more covid-19 because of their preexisting conditions, but what's causing those preexisting conditions? so people say, well, black people have more hypertension, but there's no discussion about health care. some people want to focus on, there's something about the
black body, as opposed to where do people work, where the people live, and where do people get their health care. yamiche: people are also being told, especially african-americans who are told, trust the system, get this vaccine. there are some african-americans who feel like this is being rushed, that they don't worry about this. how do you think officials can thread the line between not talking down to people, but also trying to get them to trust the system that historically has not been kind to african-americans? >> first of all, i tell people, don't get the vaccine if your questions have not been answered. i urge people to take it, but at the same time, people have to feel comfortable taking it. you know, one of my concerns is that there has been such a focus on vaccine hesitancy that we don't see the images as much as what happened in philadelphia this weekend. an organization called the black doctors covid-19 consortium had
a 24-hour walk-up vaccine distribution clinic. it was jam-packed. people sometimes waited for 10 hours to get the vaccine. yamiche: as you noted, the system that has treated african-americans unfairly at times it was not built overnight. that being said, in the middle of a pandemic, what can the health care system do to better treat african-americans in this country? >> one, i think that the health care system, when they think about things such as vaccine allocation, they have to go to where the people are, that you cannot have a vaccine distribution clinic and a place where people need to take two busses to get to the healthcare system also has to be more vocal. to recognize that this is a longstanding
issue and that racism exists in american medicine but there also needs to be a discussion that this is just not about covid-19, that we also have to talk about inequities in other parts of the american healthcare system. yamiche: well, dr. northington gamble, thank you so much for this robust conversation about inequali in the health care system. >> thank you very much for having me. ♪ judy: today, a german court ised a landmark ruling, sentencing a former syrian intelligence officer to prison for crimes against humanity. it's the first case over state-sponsored torture under president bashar al-assad's regime meanwhile, as the ten year anniversary of the civil war looms and fighting rages on in the hard-hit province of idlib,
syria is ill-equipped to handle the invisible threat of covid-19. as the newshour's ali rogin reports, it targets the most vulnerable in this fragile place. should ali: inside idlib's largest covid-19 hospital, doctors are stretched to their limits. as soon as one bed frees up, a new patient enters. bodybags line the corridors. in the syrian opposition's final stronghold, medical workers say they have no means to battle the pandemic. >> we need the international community to increase its support. we've reached a point where the medical system has collapsed and the resources we have are not enough to control the widespread impact of the virus. ali: in the last four months infection rates in idlib have increased over 50%. since the start of the pandemic there have been 20,000 confirmed
covid 19 cases in nohwest syria. an uneasy ceasefire last year means fewer war-wounded bodies. but crical care units are overwhelmed with patients gasping for air. the u.n. says there are one -- 162 ventilators and 234 icu beds available for idlib's four million residents. after ten years of war, syria is ill-prepared to handle covid. half of all hospitals are out of service or partially functioning. the u.n. says in the last two years, russia and the regime have targeted more than 80 medical facilities. >> because of the shelling and regimes' attacks on hospitals, we have not enough hospitals for treatment, and people have been displaced from their towns and cities, and living in crowded camps without healthcare, should healthy water, social distancing. they feeling disappear because the international community
abandoned them and did not prevent regime attacks on them. >> he told us, i will get better, i will eat fruits and honey and hopefully in two or three days, i will get better. ali: the virus left yahya arja's family grieving. his uncle, ahmed arja, died from covid-19 complications within ten days. >> we told him, let's take you to the hospital so someone can take a look at you, but he refused to go. he didn't even believe the virus was real, he thought it was just something there to scare people. ali: misinformation is widespread. in this busy idlib city market, few people wear masks. no one stays 6 feet apart. >> i'm asking people to wear masks, to stop going to social gatherings, to stop taking this lightly because seriously the virus is dangerous. and if you don't get it, or if you don't get serious mptoms, then it's going to impact those older than you that are around you. ali: but lockdowns are difficult
to enforce when closed markets mean no income. 80% of syrians are now below the poverty line. one box of masks here costs twice a day's wage. twenty miles north, in idlib's countryside, masks are nonexistent. infections here are rising. these makeshift tents house nearly one million people who fled russian and regime aitrikes. fresh snow covers plastic tents this winter. the season brings fierce wind and rain, flooding their homes. as temperatures sink, children chop down olive trees for firewood. ahmed daboul burns the branches with plastic and cardboard to keep his 20-day-old newborn warm. >> i don't have anything else to keep him warm. it's very difficult here in the winter. burning plastic of course impacts me and my children, it's not good for our respiratory health. ali: shared public bathrooms are a breeding ground for disease. hand-washing signs are posted on public sinks thousands use. fawziya khalifa rocks her
newborn near a fire but worries about her future. she says it's been five months since they've received aid. >> we have no bread, no food, nothing, no heater, no blankets, no oven for us to cook. we have nothing. go look inside that tent over there. everyone is sick. ali: but as covid takes hold, young children try to learn about a disease they have little control over. six-year-old hyaa. >> they gave us these papers and told us to read them and to stay away from each other. when we go to school they tell us to wear masks and stay away from each other and to not cough in anyone's face because you could get coronavirus. ali: for the pbs newshour, i'm ali rogin. ♪ judy: in a time when statues and
monuments around the country are being removed for what they represent, the shaw memorial in boston is receiving attention of a different sort. it is being fully restored, with pride that the monument depicting black soldiers marching off to battle in the civil war, stands the test of time. special correspondent jared bowen of gbh boston has our story, part of our arts and culture series, canvas. >> for nearly 125 years, the shaw memorial has stood across from the massachusetts state house. it depicts colonel robert gould shaw and the soldiers of the 54th regiment, one of the groups of black troops formed first during the civil war as they march off to battle. >> i see men who are determined to have their freedom and the freedom of those who are coming after them and their families. so for me, it is a walk to triumph. >> l'merchie frazier, director of education for the museum of
african-american history, is a consultant on the monument's current restoration. for the moment bronze has been replaced by photographic brawn. do you still make discoveries when you look at the pictures? >> oh, absolutely. there's a reveal that happens almost every time. that, you know, you find the mastery of the angel and components of the flight that she's taken to guard the men and to protect. >> right now, the real thing is taking the winter lying down. since, august the monument been at skylight studios, a wonderland of sculpture. here, statuary abounds from a horse approaching the size of a trojan one to the gold eagle normally perched atop boston's old statehouse. but the piece de resistance, of course, is the monument which robert shure and his team have been conserving for months. >> we totallstripped all the previous coatings that were on it and refinished it,
repatinated it. >> this is a $3 million effort sponsored by the national park service, friends of boston's public garden, the city of boston, and the museum of african american history. at skylight, conservators take the project piece by piece, shoring up the seams of the monument's some 20 different parts. >> a couple of nuts and bolts missing, but it was in stcturally great condition for a piece that was over 100 years old. >> the monument is the creation of sculptor augustus saint-gaudens who originally intended to depict the colonel astride his horse. but after shaw's family of abolitionists asked the artist to also depict the men who elevated shaw's fame, saint-gaudens turned the project into a 14-year endeavor. laboring over details. some which can never even be seen when the memorial is upright. it's monument to perfection says shure, who is also a sculptor. >> the faces, really, of the
infantrymen. the way the sculptor rendered them with such emotion. you could see in their faces fear, you could see the determination, you could see the dedication. >> in july of 1863, under the cover of darkness, the 54th stormed fort wagner in south carolina. the regiment was defeated with nearly half of the troops killed or wounded, including shaw. but that moment, the regiment's ferocious battle for liberty, would be memorialized in remembrances, testimonials and even in hollywood in the 1989 film "glory." >> come on! >> some 20 years after the battle, saint-gaudens began work on the memorial. we first reported on the monument in 2014 when the national gallery of art and the massachusetts historical should society presented tell it with pride an exhibition that told the story stories behind the monument. for saint-gaudens, an internationally known artist,
the sculpture was a labor of love, said curator anne bentley. do we know why he was so abscess of about this? >> that was just the way he worked. after the monument was unveiled he wasn't terribly happy with it. he continued to tinker for several years. it is a piece rich in detail, featuring 23 men marching off to battle. guns hoisted, packs tugging and fabric folding. but they are not the real soldiers long after the war's end, saint-gaudens hired some 40 models for inspiration. the exhibition introduced us to many of the regiment's real mena”well represented in photographs they themselves commissioned said the society librarian peter drummey. >> it's wonderful to see people who were proud of their uniforms and the accoutrements of their ranks as non-commissioned officers. their instruments as musicians. often they paid to have the photograph hand colored. >> also they could remember
their days. but today, it's posterity and a monument that remember them. and during this time of racial reckoning, l'merchie frazier says their valor can be even more deeply understood. >> how would they have reacted to their names being engraved in a monument in a permanent way in american history? we have a grand opportunity once this is restored to expand the narrative of american history. >> for the pbs newshour, i'm jared bowen in boston, massachusetts. when he started ae
my grandma says that sometimes the things you love to do can determine the road you will travel in life. my papa did that even though people said it wasn't allowed, and that makes me want to follow in his footsteps. >> my name is braelyn starks >> i am ariana miller >> my name is j'adore smith and i am black history judy: we could listen to each one of you all day long. on the newshour online, right now, billie holiday and her most famous song get fresh attention in a new movie starring andra day as the late singer. what keeps drawing us to her story? we explore that on our website, pbs.org/newshour. and that is the news are for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs d see you soon. you, stay safe
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