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tv   MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin  MSNBC  February 24, 2021 8:00am-9:01am PST

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pandemic leadership since johnson & johnson news broke. we will take you to that as soon as it starts. jeff bennett is my partner here for this hour. he is keeping an eye on the briefing. also a lot of movement in our nation's capitol. >> that's right. great to see you. what's happening today has big implications for all of us. in a matter of hours, president biden and the vice president will meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on an effort to support products made here in america. he will sign an executive order to shore up our supply chains. plus, over on capitol hill, we are watching several critical hearing. cabinet picks are being vetted. many are still not confirmed. the postmaster general is being grilled right now over delivery delays at the u.s. postal service. we will find out whether a 15
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minimum rate hike will be included. we have energy's shannon pettypiece covering the white house and nbc's lee anne caldwell on capitol hill. shannon, we will start with you. the big focus from president biden is also on the economy. what can you tell us about this bipartisan meeting? second, about the executive order he is going to sign today. >> reporter: the meeting is intended to be focused on the supply chain issue, which this executive order relates to. of course, with everything you just mentioned going none washington, it would not be surprising if other topics happen to come up with a bipartisan group of members of congress. on the supply chain issue -- it's something members of congress have talked about bringing up legislation related to, the pandemic brought awareness to a lot of the weaknesses in the american manufacturing sector. everything from ppe to
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semiconductors have been in short supply at various points. this executive order would initiate a review. basically, the first steps of trying to find vulnerabilities in the american supply chain and find ways we can move forward to addressing those. it is looking at pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, as i mentioned, large car batteries, rare earth minerals and a number of other things that have really been identified already as being issues that the administration would like to address. >> let's talk about the house, which is expected to vote friday on the president's covid relief package. what's in it at this point? how does the minimum wage increase fold into it? we should make clear to our audience, because in the senate there's a rule for everything, because democrats are using this fast track approach, there are rules about what can be included in the legislation once it reaches the upper chamber. what's the deal? >> reporter: that's right. let's start with what's in the
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package that is going to be in the package by the end of this process. it's a big bill that is really geared toward helping middle and lower income americans and americans who are struggling. there is a $400 unemployment extension. there's another $1,400 stimulus payment. there's a child tax credit for people who have children, up to $300 per month. the big question though is, is this minimum wage of $15 an hour, that is stepped up over the next few years, is that going to be in this bill at the end? it's up to the senate and up to this senate referee known as the senate parliamentarian. we're told a meeting between republicans and democrats are happening right now with that senateparliamentarian. she's going to see if it fits in with the reconciliation rules, in order for that piece of
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proposal to be included in this bill. we could find out at the end -- by the end of the day. if it is included, democrats still have a lot of work to do to ensure that all 50 democratic members are on board with this minimum wage, because there are some, including senator manchin who don't support that. a lot of roadblocks if that is to be included. >> thanks to you both. we will take you to the covid-19 briefing happening in progress. i'm told the covid coordinator is speaking. >> these are nationwide networks that serve populations hit hard by the pandemic. masks are widely available there different shapes and sizes, many low income americans still lack
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affordable access to this basic protection. that's why we are taking this important action to keep americans safe. we will deliver more than 25 million masks across the country. these masks will be available at more than 1,300 community health centers and at 60,000 food pantries nationwide. any american who needs a mask will be able to walk into these health centers or food pantry and pick up masks. they will be available at no cost. they will be well fitting cloth masks available in children and adult sizes. they can be washed for reuse. all consistent with cdc guidance and all made in the usa. once again, our decisions here have been made with equity at the center. not all americans are wearing
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masks regularly. not all americans have access. and not all masks are equal. with this action, we are helping to level the playing feel. giving vulnerable populations quality, well-fitting masks. when president biden delivered his inaugural address, he made a clear request. mask up. he has taken action to require masks on federal land in federal building and on public transportation like planes, trains and buses. the action we are announcing today is a targeted step to help americans respond to the president's challenge to mask up to protect themselves and their fellow americans. as we encourage people to continue to mask up, we are focused on vaccinating people quickly and equitable. today i will give you the latest update on our execution on vaccinations in the three key areas we are focused on.
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more vaccine supply. more vaccinavaccinators. and more places to get vaccinated. first, on vaccine supply, yesterday we announced the fifth consecutive week of supply increases to states, tribes and territories. from 8.6 million doses when we took office to 14.5 million doses this week. that's an increase in vaccine allocations of nearly 70% during the biden/harris administration. the retail pharmacy program we launched a few weeks ago has performed well so far. this week, we will increase the allocation to pharmacies to 2.1 million doses. with 14.5 million doses allocated to states, tribes and territories and 2.1 million through the federal retail
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pharmacy program, we have nearly doubled weekly supply of doses in just five weeks. second, we are mobilizing teams to get shots in arms. we deployed over 800 federal personnel as vaccinators and the federal government is funding 1,200 national guard members to serve as vaccinators. we have also deployed 1,000 federal personnel to support community vaccination sites in operational and support roles. third, we continue creating more places where americans can get vaccinated. we have expanded financial support to bolster community vaccination centers nationwide. with over $3.6 billion in fema funding to 44 states, tribes and territories for vaccination efforts. we are bringing vaccinations to places communities know and
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trust. community centers, high school gyms, churches and stadiums nationwide. we continue to work with states to set up innovative, high-volume, federally run sites that can each give over 30,000 shots a week. these sites are up and running in california and are ramping up in texas, florida and pennsylvania. we have launched federal programs to get vaccines to pharmacies and local community health centers. as we have always said, we are committed to provide clarity on our progress and that includes when we hit bumps in the road. last week, we got hit with the very severe weather which impacted the vaccination supply chain. from manufacturing to shipping to the ability to get shots in arms. the manufacturers, shipping firms, the states, the tribes, the territories and pharmacies worked to overcome these
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challenges. and despite all the temporary weather-related delays, our seven-day average daily doses administered is at 1.4 million. and we have caught up on the weather-related shipping backlogs. teams worked throughout last weekend to pack and ship doses. on monday, yesterday, 7 million doses -- two days ago, 7 million doses were delivered. that coupled with the 14.5 million doses allocated this week results in record supply going to the states. we have encouraged states to get needles into arms by extending vaccine clinic hours, offering services 24 hours a day where possible, adding weekend appointments and having more staff on hand. on this point, i want to stress that if states do not have the staff to work around the clock and on the weekends, the federal government stands ready to help.
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i also want to spend a couple of minutes on our plans for the johnson & johnson vaccine which is currently pending approval for emergency use authorization by the fda. yesterday, i update and reviewed with our nation's governors our plans to distribute the johnson & johnson vaccine if the eua is granted. the governors are carefully planning their efforts and getting ready for the possible new vaccine. if authorized, we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay. our distribution approach will mirror the current allocations process across jurisdictions, pharmacies and community health centers. if an eua, we anticipate allocated 3 million to 4 million doses of johnson & johnson vaccine next week. johnson & johnson announced they aim to deliver 20 million doses
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by the end of march. we are working with the company to accelerate the pace and time frame by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of june. while we await the fda's decision, we want the american people to know that we are doing the work so that if the eua is granted, we will waste no time getting this life saving vaccine into the arms of americans. with that let me turn it over to dr. walensky to talk about the state of the pandemic. >> thank you. i'm delighted to be with you today. we continue to see trends heading in the right direction. in the past week, average daily cases declined 25% to approximately 64,000 cases per day. this is slightly less than the summer peak of 67,000 daily cases reported last july. while this is good news, cases still remain high. we continue to watch these data closely. we also see decline in new
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hospital admissions for the most recent week. a decrease of 16% from the week prior. the number of reported deaths is also dropping, with a seven-day average of slightly less than 2,000 per day. this represents a 35% decline compared to the prior week. on monday, i announced we were kicking off our three-day national vaccine forum. we have had an extraordinary few days. our final tally, we virtually assembled over 12,000 participants from across the united states representing state, tribe, local and territorial governments, private sector partners, medical and public health institutions, community based organizations, faith based groups and educators, among others. the discussions and presentations from over 100 speakers showcased promising practices and critical
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scientific information for those involved in vaccination efforts in communities across the nation. i would like to share a few examples of what we learned over the past three days. first, trust and community confidence are cornerstones of our national vaccine efforts. trusted voices are critical to building confidence in vaccines and addressing misinformation. our community leaders are often those trusted voices. we heard from national, state and local health leaders about communication and public education campaigns they are deployed. instill confidence and interest in vaccines. as well as tools and strategies health care providers can use when talking with their patients about covid-19 vaccinations. for example, we learned about a new communications campaign in new orleans that is grounded in the local flavor and culture as a way to resonate with the city's residents. second, one of the most powerful benefits was learning about on the ground experiences and new
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innovations to expand vaccination efforts. we heard about creative ways providers and volunteers have been getting vaccinations into communities, using boats, ferries and snowmobiles, leveraging emergency medical services to provide vaccinations to homebound individuals and awareness campaigns featuring trusted elders and health care workers in the cherokee nation of oklahoma. finally, forum sessions taught us that every person, community, faith based organization, golfa non-governmental business have a role to play in supporting our strategy. we learned about faith based efforts like the outreach to people of color being led by the metropolitan international church in nashville, tennessee, where faith ambassadors engage with local clergy to spread accurate information on covid-19 vaccines to these high risk communities venl.
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we heard about successful public/private partnerships like in san diego where vaccination supersig cites are vaccinating thousands a day. in colorado, where there's a partnership, the champions for vaccine equity task force, where the health department and ten medical champions of color are working to create opportunities for listening and sharing information about covid-19 vaccines. these are just a few of many practical innovations and solutions shared during the forum. i want to let you know that all of these sessions as well as resources and materials will be posted on the cdc website following the forum. i encourage you to check it out when you are able. next i would like to take a moment to highlight the progress made so far in our efforts to rapidly expand gnoic sequencing.
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this work is more important than ever given the spread of covid-19 variants in the united states. as of february 23rd, we have identified nearly 1,900 cases of variants in 45 states, 46 cases of another variant in 14 states and five of the p-1 in fair states. the pace of our genoic sequencing has scaled up from 400 samples a week to now more than 9,000 samples as of the week of february 20th. we are continuing to increase this pace with our state public health and private lab partners with a goal of 25,000 samples per week in the coming weeks. the increased volume of sequence information is helping us to better understand the diversity of variants in the united states, where they are located and how they are spread. with the samples in hand, we can scientifically examine how variants impact vaccines and therapeutics moving forward.
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finally, i want to say we are proud to be partners in the announcement made today about sending masks to underserved and vulnerable populations. one of the most impactful things we can do is wear a mask. this is so important during this critical period where cases are decliing but variants are increasing throughout our country. cdc continues to recommend that everyone 2 years of age or older wear a mask when in public and around ours in the home not living with you. the mask you should wear should have two or more layers, completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against your nose and the sides of your face. it's essential you wear why you mask correctly and that it fits well in order to get the most protection. by wearing masks in combination with social distancing, washing your hands, avoiding crowds and travel and getting vaccinateed when it's available, we can bring an end to this pandemic. i will turn things over to dr. fauci.
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>> thank you very much, dr. walensky. what i would like to do over the next couple of minutes is just update you on an important component of the spectrum of covid-19 disease. if i could have the first slide. many of you are aware of what had long been called long co-vitd. that's post-acute sequelae. the reason i'm bringing it up will be apparent in a minute of two. the symptoms of this include, fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fever, gi symptoms, anxiety and depression and what some refer to as brain fog or inability or difficulty in concentrating or focusing. remember, these are post-acute
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sequelae, after the virus has been cleared from the body. new symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection or they evolve over time and they may persist as i will get to in a moment for months and can range from mild, annoying, to actually quite incapaci incapacitating. the magnitude is not fully known. there have been a number of papers that have described in some detail large cohorts. here is one from china which was published online on january 8th in more than 1,700 patients who actually had been hospitalized. i point out that you can get this post-acute syndrome even in individuals who did not require hospitalization. the six-month follow-up showed a variety of signs and symptoms shown here with many having fatigue and weakness, as i mentioned on the prior slide,
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sleep difficulties, anxiety or depression and the greater proportion of patients with more severe illness had impaired lung diffusion capacity. most recently, in a study from the university of washington, that appeared just a few days ago. it was found something alarming. approximately 30% of the patients who were enrolled at the university of washington reported persistent symptoms for as long as nine months after illness. fatigue was the most common reported symptom. persistent symptoms were reported by one-third of outpatients with mild disease. next slide. what we did, we being an interagency group, nih, cdc and others, put together a workshop a little bit north of washington, d.c. on december 3rd
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and 4th of last year in which we looked at organ systems and brought in experts in all of these areas, cardiovascular, pediatrics, neurologic, to scope out things to look at with this puzzling syndrome. the reason i'm bringing it up -- next slide -- is that just yesterday on february 23rd, the nih launched a new initiative to study this pasq. congress provided $1.15 billion in funding over four years for the nih to support research looking into this. i'm happy to say that yesterday, there was the first in what will be a series of research opportunity announcements
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released for nih initiative on this puzzling syndrome. the research studies will be looking at recovery cohorts, some that are already established and some that will be established. they will look at large data banks from resources such as electronic health records. they will study a number of biological specimens. on the last slide, there are selective questions that this initiative hopes to answer. they are important. what does the spectrum of recovery from this infection look like across all the entire population? young individuals, middle age, elderly. how many people continue to have symptoms of covid-19 or even as we have seen develop new symptoms that they did not have even as part of their acute
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infection? what is the underlying biological cause of the prolonged symptoms? what makes certain people vulnerable while others recover fully and quickly and have no sequelae? finally, does it trigger changes in the body that actually increase the risk later on of such abnormalities such as chronic heart or brain disorders? a lot of important questions that are now unanswered that we hope with this series of initiatives we will ultimately answer. i will stop there and hand it back to jeff. >> thank you, doctors fauci and walensky. why don't we open it up for questions? >> first, meg tyrel at cnbc.
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>> thanks so much. to follow up, dr. fauci, and i have another couple questions, one for dr. walensky and one for all of you. i wonder if you could tell us a little bit more about -- it's early, but what the epidemic of long covid might look like beyond the pandemic and how worried you are about that and if you are -- >> we have been listening to today's covid-19 response briefing. for more, i want to bring in an infectious disease physician. the medical director of the special pathogens unit at boston medical center. an msnbc contributor. thanks for your time. let's start with the fda's endorsement of the johnson & johnson covid vaccine. that's the big news today. it will really change the way we vaccinate many americans, because as you well know, it requires a single shot instead of two. it could be approved by the fda as early as friday. the response team, they just
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said that they could expect to send out three to 4 million doses as early as next week. help us understand how much of a game changer this really is. >> good morning. it is. here is why. the johnson & johnson data, which was released in more detail today in anticipation of the fda meeting shows this one dose vaccine, about 28 days after you get it, you are 85% protected against severe disease and 100% protected against hospitalizations and deaths. that's what we are concerned about. majority of us remain vulnerable. we don't have immunity against this. the more vaccines we get out there, we can build this blanket of immunity in our population that helps decrease those types of severe hospitalizations and death numbers we are seeing, which are going down, but the concern is because we are seeing the rise in variants and despite the numbers that dr. walensky shared today, most people think that potentially the number of variants we have in our country
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are probably larger than what we have because surveillance is better but it's growing. for all those reasons, this is good news. partly because johnson & johnson said they will deliver 20 million doses by the end of march. that means an additional 20 million americans will have immunity by the end of march. >> a question that strikes me, do we know, is the johnson & johnson vaccine just as good as the pfizer or moderna vaccine? if someone shows up to their pharmacy and the only shot is the johnson & johnson vaccine, could that person feel comfortable getting that vaccine knows they didn't have the chance to get the moderna or pfizer one? >> absolutely. i will start with any of my family members or friends, if they are access, i would tell them to take it. currently, the choice is not between one vaccine or another. the choice is vaccine or no vaccine. this vaccine, as i said, provides protection against all
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the variants we know. the overall efficacy is 66% against moderate to severe disease. then 85% and 100%. the reason this is difficult is you can't do apples to apples comparison with the other trials in this case because johnson & johnson looked at different end points. the other trials looked at all disease, they specifically -- they focused specifically on severe and moderate disease and then hospitalizations and deaths. the other reason we can't compare is because when moderna and pfizer's trials were going on, the variants weren't as widespread in areas where they were conducting tritrials. we don't know what moderna and pfizer's data would have looked like had it been conducted now. for those reasons and the fact that it's 100% protective against hospitalizations and deaths, i would say you should get the shot if you have access to it. >> got it. the bottom line is when your turn comes, get your shot.
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thanks, as always. as the vaccine rolls out, we put together a guide to help you figure out when and where to get the vaccine. go to planyourvaccine.com or use your phone to scan the qr code on the screen that you see -- on the screen you see there off to the right. coming up, i will talk to an activist at the center of the fight to raise the minimum wage across the country to $15 an hour. what a similar raise meant for her and how democrats are pushing to include it in the covid relief bill. first our coverage of tiger woods' car accident and recovery. >> that's right. we are outside this hospital where tiger woods is recovering after the devastating car crash. i talked to the first deputy on the scene about what he saw when he arrived. we will have him for you next. also, journalist jamel will join us to reflect on tiger's impact
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on our country processing the accident and what's next for him. ssing the accident and what's next for him. ffs plus lotion, and rescued his nose. with up to 50% more lotion puffs bring soothing softness and relief. a nose in need deserves puffs indeed. what do you look for when you trade? i want free access to research. yep, td ameritrade's got that. free access to every platform. yeah, that too. i want to know what i'm paying upfront. yes, absolutely. now offering zero commissions on online trades. (man) i'm a verizon engineer, part of the team that built 5g right, the only one from america's most reliable network. we designed our 5g to make the things you do every day better. with 5g nationwide, millions of people can now work, listen, and stream in verizon 5g quality. and in parts of many cities where people can use massive capacity, we have ultra wideband, the fastest 5g in the world. this is the 5g that's built for you.
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craig melvin live outside ucla medical center in los angeles where tiger woods is recovering. it's where he is being treated. he is responsive, according to his team. it comes after that violent rollover crash that significantly injured his legs.
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tiger's official twitter account saying tiger is awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room. it includes a message from a doctor walking through his injuries and the hours of surgery it took to treat them. including inserting a rod to stabilize a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg. this was the crash scene tuesday in the hilly, windy area three miles south of los angeles where officials say wrecks are common. suv so badly damaged the fire department had to cut tiger out of it. at this hour, officials say there are no signs that the golfing legend was impaired in any way. they hope to learn more from a black box taken from inside the suv. i talked to a deputy with the
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l.a. county sheriff's department. he was the first responder on the scene and says tiger was conscious when he arrived. >> i asked him, can you tell me your first name? he looked at me and he said, tiger. it took me a half second. i saw his face. i thought, yeah, you are tiger woods. of course, i have a job to do. i immediately went into assessment questions, gauge what his condition was in and what his mental state was at the time. >> at what point did you decide to not try and extricate him yourself, you needed to call the fire department to have them come and get him out? >> when i noticed mr. woods was -- he seemed calm. he didn't seem like he was in distress. he was able to talk to me a little bit. i noticed the passenger compartment seemed mostly intact. he didn't seem like he was in any further danger. i did consider pulling him out
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myself. i decided that it would be better to wait for the fire department since they have the specialized tools and training to remove people safely from vehicles like that. >> you said he was talking to you. what was tiger saying to you in those moments? >> i kept him talking. i asked him basic things to gauge his mental state like, do you know where you are right now, do you know what day it is, just to see if he was aware of what had occurred. >> did he seem aware of his injuries at all at that point? >> he didn't mention anything. i don't think he was aware of how gravely he was injured at the time. it could be a mixture of adrenaline. it could have been shock. it was very quick, the moment that i arrived from the moment that he rolled over. i don't know if he had time to fully assess his injuries. >> joined now by jamel hill. a contributing writer to "the
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atlantic." the host of a podcast. apologies to viewers and listeners. there's a protester here on the sidewalk. you probably hear that. i did want to talk to you about this. tiger's impact, undeniable. to the sport of golf and beyond, to our country. talk to me about what tiger means. >> first of all, craig, as a fellow broadcaster, let me say right now, you deserve a lot of props. many of us may not have been able to deliver what you have just delivered as smoothly and artfully with the background noise. shout out to you. you are a professional. i think tiger's impact on the sports world and just in sports history, i mean, it really can't be put into words accurately. we are talking about one of the best athletes of all time. i know he hasn't met the mark of
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jack nicholas' wins for major tournaments, but i think still to a lot of people, even though the latter half of his career hasn't looked like the first half, to a lot of people, this is the best golfer of all time. when i worked at espn, we used to do topics consistently when tiger was competing in a major and the topic was, tiger or the field. that's how good he was. in most cases, you took tiger and not the field. what we saw from him, his dominance, was really unprecedented. i think that's why you have seen people react as viscerally and emotionally as they have to him being in this situation. everybody is thankful that it appears he will be okay. it was hard not -- for a lot of people, especially living here in los angeles, where i am right now, not to think of kobe bryant. that's how we started off 2020, looking at pictures from a crash site of a fatal crash with what
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happened with kobe. looking at a crash site involving someone who had been a transcendent athlete. that's reasons why this is resonating with a lot of people. >> a lot of folks saw that crash initially yesterday, myself included, we immediately thought of kobe. i mean, tiger is incredibly competitive. he has come back from surgeries before, multiple back surgeries, knee surgery, personal loss, controversy. what do you see as his potential future, whether on the golf course or not? >> you know, i can't really speculate, because i'm not a medical expert. i will say this. this feels a lot different. i said this before when he was able to come back from a significant back surgery. i know he has had five just in the span of his career, that
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this would be one of the greatest comebacks ever. i hope i have to eat my words and that his comeback from this will be the greatest comeback ever. we are looking at a different uphill climb, because again, he has had five back surgeries and knee issues and you add a compound fracture and serious surgery he had to endure. i don't blame people for wondering if this may be the end of his pro golfing career. here is the thing. even if it is, given everything that he has accomplished, everything that he has done, winning the masters as recently as two years ago in 2019 after not having won a masters in ten years, tiger's legacy is cemented. he is already at worst one of the greatest golfers ever. at best, the greatest golfer ever. i don't think there's any question there about where he stands in golf history and
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sports history. i think right now, it's completely okay for the bar to just be, can tiger woods -- will he play with his children, will he be in physical form to live a normal life? i think it's okay for people to root for that and not really worry about his golf career. >> it's a good spot to end it. always good to have you. always good to have your analysis and your insight. thank you for having me here on the left coast. i wish it were under better circumstances. >> appreciate it. thank you for setting the professional standard of what it means to do your job and not be distracted. >> thank you. i wanted to respond. i need this job. mr. bennett, back to you. >> thanks, craig. a big question at the center of the covid relief negotiations on capitol hill, should we increase the minimum wage?
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by how much? most democrats want it $15 an hour. i will talk to a mcdonald's crew member who is a single mom and a fight for $15 activist. how a similar increase in her pay changed her life. first, we want to show you a bit of an awkward moment from just a few moments ago during the house gop press conference. the republican leadership was asked about president trump's participation at cpac this weekend, a gathering of conservative activists. here is what happened next. >> do you believe president trump should be speaking at cpac this weekend? >> yes, he should. >> that's up to cpac. i've been clear on my views about president trump and the extent to which following january 6th. i don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future party. >> on that high note, thank you very much.
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♪♪ the christmas rush -- >> you are looking alive pictures of the house oversight committee hearing on options for reforming the u.s. postal service. the hearing is happening as the
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postmaster general is expected to unveil a plan that sources tell me would delay first class mail delivery while increasing postal rates. his strategy is aimed at cuts costs since the postal service was more than $9 billion in the red last year. some employees tell me that they are afraid his next round of policy changes will lead to even more delays. if you, like me, are just receiving cards and letters sent in december, it's clear the u.s. postal service is still struggling with service slowdowns. they try to dig out from under an avalanche of mail sent during the holiday season. dejoy addressed the delays and talked about the agency's successes. take a look. >> during this peak season, we fell far short of meeting our service targets. too many americans were left waiting for weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. this is unacceptable. i am proud of the dedication of
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our employees who worked tirelessly to meet our public service mission during the most trying of circumstances. our performance during the election was tremendous. >> you remember the postmaster is the trump appointee whose delay became a major issue during the election as the postal service scrambled to deliver a record number of mail ballots on time. president biden is facing pressure to take steps to overhaul the postal service's governing leadership as a means of ousting dejoy. the white house says that's a priority for the administration. we will keep an eye on the hearing and bring you the headlines as they happen. big promises, little follow through. black farmers say they hear a lot from politicians but never see the policy changes they actually need. in a few hours, president biden's pick to lead the u.s.
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department of agriculture, he will be sworn in. some black farmers are skeptical about what he will do. pricella thompson is in oklahoma. this is an important story. i'm glad you are covering it. i'm told you spoke with a farmer who has been a life long republican but who voted for president biden. what is he looking for? >> reporter: yeah, jeff. i'm spending the day on the farm of willard davis. he is a fourth generation farmer here in oklahoma. that's pretty extraordinary when you look at the numbers. right now in this country, there are less than 50,000 black farmers. you compare that to a century ago when there were around a million. there's been a pretty significant decline there. no small part, etcexperts tell because of discriminatory practices in place at the u.s. department of agriculture that resulted in black farmers losing
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their land, land loss, and also not receiving the same access to credit that their white counterparts did. that actually, i should point out, those issues led to the largest civil rights settlement in u.s. history. this is something that joe biden talked about on the campaign trail. he on the campaign trail. he released a plan, making promises of equity and to address those issues for black farmers. it's why mr. davis voted for joe biden in november. and he says that' he is hopeful joe biden will deliver on those promises but he's also skeptical. listen to what he told me. >> that's one of the biggest problems that we have, trying to get the white officials to do what they say they're going to do. i mean, they make us all these promises and once they get in office, they forget about us. election day, we are the cream of the crop.
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after they get in office, they forget about us. >> reporter: jeff, as a reminder, when vilsack -- his nomination was first announced, there were some black farmers and community activists who came out expressing concerns about his record on civil rights. and i spoke with the executive director of an organization in oklahoma that works with black farmers and he tells me that what they really want at this point is a seat at the table, to feel like there's diversity in that department that has their interests at heart and understands the unique challenges that black farmers face. jeff? >> priscilla, mr. davis speaks for a lot of folks when he says black farmers have felt like they've been long forgotten. priscilla thompson, we appreciate it. today the senate parliamentarian is expected to decide whether a minimum wage could be included in if covid relief bill.
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adriana alvarez is a mcdonald's worker in chicago living on $8.50 an hour as a single mother. it was a struggle, she says. she writes, to afford housing i moved into a basement-level apartment that frequently flooded. almost all our money beyond rent and utilities went to food, but my son is lactose intolerant and needs special milk that costs $6 a container. what do you do when you can't afford to keep your child healthy? adriana alvarez, that mcdonald's worker and an activist with the fight for 15 movement joins me now. you decided to organize with your co-workers and push for what you call real change after being offered just a ten-cent raise. you point out in the piece that you wrote that you were making $8.50 an hour, that was added up, less than $18,000 a year. and you had to make hard choices because of it.
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what were some of those choices you had to make when you were making 18 grand a year? >> one of the hardest choices was, like i said in the piece, when i found out that my son was lactose intolerant. it was hard to afford his milk. so i just felt like a failure of a mom because i couldn't afford to give him the special milk that he needed, and i think that's one of the biggest low blows that i've gone through in life, being a single mom and getting $8.50 an hour. >> in your state, illinois, as i understand it, it's gradually bumping the minimum wage to $15 an hour. so what was the fight like to get a wage increase for you and your co-workers, and how has that wage increase changed your life? >> so the fight was, like, to be expected, it was hard, but we have power in numbers. the more co-workers came together and demanded, you know, respect on the job, the more
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that management actually listened to us, and it has made a big difference in my life, in the life of my son. just before the pandemic, we went up to $14, and i was actually able to do some what i call luxury stuff with my son, like taking him out to the movies. we went to the winter wonder fest here which i had never gone to. we had a blast. he loved ice-skating. it was something small but yet significant that happened when i was -- when i pushed for a higher wage. >> and when you're making $18,000 a year, as you were, you know, for folks whom that's a reality, when you add the pandemic on top of it, give us a sense of how the pandemic, the quarantine, the impact to retail worker, all of that, what does that do? how does that affect your life
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when you're making a minimum wage that is far below $15 an hour and you layer on top of it all of the difficulties of the pandemic? >> it's just one thing on top of another. before you're struggling to put food on the table. now it's probably twice as hard, you know, with the pandemic. my hours were cut. luckily i'm not at $8.50 right now, so i don't imagine what that would be like if i was only down to three days and making $8.50 an hour. i wouldn't be able to feed my son or myself. and i think that a lot of people don't realize that, you know, we're out here working, you know, every day up to 40 hours a week and we still live in poverty, and i don't think -- that's not fair. >> adriana alvarez, appreciate your perspectives this morning. and that does it for me this hour. >> thank you. >> "andrea mitchell reports" starts after a short break.
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good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington with the latest on tiger woods' condition after his horrific car accident. his representatives say he is awake today and responsive after his extensive surgery. ucla trauma center's chief medical officer has released a statement reading in part, open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia. additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. megan fitzgerald joins me now from outside the medical center. what are you hearing from tiger's team today at the hospital, the officers at the scene, because it was truly an extensive rescue and very difficult surgery. >> reporter: absolutely. andrea, the idea that he's awake and responsive is the good news
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