PBS NewsHour full episode, Jan. 12, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Jan. 12, 2021

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: chaos and consequences. The House urges a reluctant vice president to invoke the 25th Amendment, setting the stage for impeachment proceedings. We speak with leaders from both sides about this moment.

Then: getting the vaccine. The glacial pace of the U.S. inoculation campaign raises questions about priorities and unrealistic expectations. And Rethinking College. The many economic hardships wrought by the pandemic disproportionately affect students of color at colleges nationwide. DESIREE POLK-BLAND, Vice President for Student Affairs, Columbus State Community College: Anything that takes your attention away from going to class, studying, spending time with the material ends up being a factor that could really impact your ability to continue as a student. JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is projecting defiance as he faces his greatest political peril yet, an unprecedented second impeachment. He denied any responsibility today for the riot that engulfed the halls of Congress last week. White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The nation still reeling, and President Trump with no regrets. The president emerged in public for the first time since extremist supporters stormed the Capitol. He rejected all talk of involuntary removal or a second impeachment.

DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: It's really a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in the history of politics. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country, and it's causing tremendous anger. I want no violence. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: At his rally last Wednesday, President Trump urged the crowd to march to the Capitol. He's since been denounced for inciting the mob. But, today, he insisted his words had been -- quote -- "totally appropriate." That brought new condemnation from the Senate's top Democrat, incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused,

is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators. Trump causes the anger, he causes the divisiveness, he foments the violence and blames others for it. That is despicable. Donald Trump should not hold office one day longer. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: House Democrats agree. Tonight, they will vote on a resolution calling for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from office.

The resolution states: "These insurrectionary protests were widely advertised and broadly encouraged by President Trump." Today, the House Rules Committee debated the measure. On full display, deep partisanship. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin and Democrats demanded action. REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): It's up to the vice president, and we're not trying to usurp his authority in any way. We're trying to tell him that the time of the 25th Amendment emergency

has arrived. It has come to our doorstep. It has invaded our chamber. They can help to lead us out of the nightmare we have been plunged into by this sequence of events. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: But Republicans, including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, echoed the president's claims of a witch-hunt. REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Let's be clear. Democrats have been wanting to remove President Trump from office since he won the election in 2016. They failed with the Russia investigation.

They failed with the Mueller investigation. And they failed with their first impeachment investigation. So, here we are again. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Jordan also refused to say whether president-elect Biden won the election fairly. For his part, Vice President Pence has signaled he is not open to using the 25th Amendment.

Instead, last night, he and the president met, after days of not speaking. They reportedly agreed to work together for the remainder of their term. Today, President Trump said -- quote -- "The 25th amendment is no risk to me." But, if that's the case, House Democrats say, tomorrow, they will vote on impeachment. At the same time, more details emerged about President Trump's real-time response to the assault on the Capitol. The Washington Post reported that the president ignored pleas

for help from lawmakers. Instead, he chose to watch the violence unfold on TV. And a report by Axios said he blamed anti-fascists, or Antifa, for the violence. There is no evidence to back up that claim. But defenders of President Trump keep repeating it. The hunt for those who assaulted the Capitol is also in full swing. STEVEN D'ANTUONO, Assistant Director, Fbi Washington Field Office: I want to stress that the FBI has a long memory and a broad reach. So, even if you have left D.C., agents

from our local field offices will be knocking on your door if we find out that you are part of the criminal activity at the Capitol. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Acting U.S. attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin also said they're forming a task force to build charges tied to sedition and conspiracy. Meanwhile, state capitols are bracing for new violence. The FBI indicated that, in the

coming days, there could nationwide protests by armed groups. In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel says the state capitol is still not safe. That comes despite a new rule banning the open carry of firearms. Today, the FBI also met with other federal agencies and Pentagon leadership on inauguration security. And senators received a briefing from the Secret Service and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Back at the U.S. Capitol, yet more fallout. Three lawmakers have now tested positive for

the coronavirus. They were part of a group hunkering down during the Capitol siege with Republicans who were not wearing masks. The video shows some even refusing masks handed out during the lockdown.

And the president also faces fallout of a different kind from big business. Today, Deutsche Bank, the biggest lender to his companies, says it will have no more dealings with him. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Yamiche joins me now for more, along with our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins. Hello to both of you. So much happening today. Lisa, I'm going to start with you.

New developments now, as the House moves closer to that second impeachment process. Tell us what you're learning. LISA DESJARDINS: Some extraordinary developments in just the past hour, Judy. The number three Republican in the House, Liz Cheney, has announced she will vote for impeachment. Reading from her statement, she wrote: "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled this mob, could have intervened, but did not."

Also, another House Republican, John Katko of New York, is also voting for impeachment. He wrote: "It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection." At the same time, The New York Times is reporting another powerful Republican, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is on board the idea of impeachment, and does not want to speak to President Trump any more. That is major news. And I can tell you, Mitch McConnell and those around him are some of the most disciplined people in Washington. For that news to leak out is significant.

Finally, I have to say the mood at the Capitol, as you saw in Yamiche's piece, is very tense. Those supporting the president are ramping up their arguments, as you heard. But it does seem this crack in the Republican Party is opening up into a chasm over this issue. And some of the president's allies, including House leader, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, are now giving permission to members to vote their conscience on this issue. That's a very

big deal. One more thing, Judy. This vote could move along quickly. I'm told that House Republicans do not have any plans to throw procedural hurdles in the way tomorrow on the road to impeachment. JUDY WOODRUFF: These are gigantic political developments, Lisa. Thank you very much. And, as we have said, we're going to be covering this all from starting tomorrow morning here live, and you will be at the Capitol for us.

So, separately to you, Yamiche, the FBI did hold that briefing today. Tell us more about what they are saying about what happened last week. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, today, the FBI and federal authorities made it very clear that they are planning to track down and charge anyone connected to the siege on the Capitol.

They say that they are treating this like an international counterterrorism effort. That is pretty remarkable, considering, of course, these are Americans on domestic soil. But they say that they are looking at so many different people. They say that they are expecting that this is going to be hundreds of cases. Right now, they have about 170 cases opened. They have charged about 70 people so far. They say that the charges range from felony murder all the way up to simple -- or all the way down to simple trespassing. They also say they're looking at theft of national security.

They're look at theft of mail. They say that this could go from city to city. They say that they have already been in Dallas and Jacksonville and Cleveland, rounding people up for this. They made it very clear that, if people were involved in this, that you could and will be charged.

Another thing to note, though, that, even though it's been about almost a week since this siege on the Capitol, the people that were briefing today, they weren't the FBI director or the head of Homeland Security. So, there's really a big question of whether or not the top, top federal officials, whether they're at some point going to come before the public to speak out. JUDY WOODRUFF: Fascinating, all of it. And we know, Yamiche, you're also following what is going on at the White House. You were reporting the president denying any responsibility for what happened. But you have been talking

to people. What is he saying privately? What is he known to believe privately about how much responsibility he has for all this? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Despite a bipartisan push now to impeach President Trump, he's saying he has no regrets. He's also spreading disinformation and still saying things that are simply false in public and in private. The president today said that he believes that everything that he said on Wednesday before these people came and attacked our U.S. Capitol was totally appropriate. But let's remind people that he said the word fight or fighting in that speech more than 20 times. And he told people to march on the Capitol, and then went back to the security

of the White House and watched all the violence play out on TV. He's also spreading the disinformation that this was really not his supporters, but that it was Antifa, anti-fascists, a group that he's called out and really made all sorts of information up about. And the FBI is saying there's no evidence of, that this was not Antifa. In fact, this was Trump -- this was the Trump supporters who were at the Capitol. They were wearing his name. They were wearing his logos. So, what you see here is President Trump trying

to deflect and deny the fact that he has any connection to this. Another thing to note is that the president today was on the Southern border, and he said the 25th Amendment, he doesn't have any risk of being hurt by that, or -- so he feels as though the only way that he's going to be at least punished by this is through impeachment, not through Vice President Pence taking any sort of action against him. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so much to follow on this Tuesday. We thank both of you for more excellent reporting. Yamiche, Lisa, thank you both. And now we will hear from members on both sides of the political aisle about the House plan to impeach President Trump a second time.

We start with Representative Val Demings, a Democrat and a member of the Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committees. And she joins us now. Congresswoman Demings, thank you very much for being with us again. It's clear things are moving very quickly. What is your understanding right now of the

disposition in the House when it comes to the impeachment vote? REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Judy, it's great to be back with you. And, look, this past week has just been an unbelievable week, starting with what happened, the attack on the Capitol on last Wednesday. You know, it would be great if President -- or Vice President Trump would invoke the 25th Amendment, where he could remove the president immediately, which we really need to happen.

Obviously, it doesn't appear he has an appetite for that. But the House is ready to move with impeachment. Of course, tonight, we will vote on the resolution asking Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. We don't expect him to do that. We're ready to move with impeachment. JUDY WOODRUFF: You were very involved in the impeachment, the first impeachment process against President Trump, a little over a year ago. How is this one going to be different?

Is it easier? Is it harder? REP. VAL DEMINGS: Well, Judy, it's really about holding the president accountable. You know, everybody counts, but everybody is accountable. No one is above the law. We know how the impeachment trial -- hearing and trial went last year. The president should

have been held accountable. He was not. But let's fast-forward to last Wednesday. We were engaged in certifying the electoral votes, which is a part of the peaceful transition of power, while we were -- members were attacked by an angry mob that was incited by President Trump. The president knew or he should have known that his actions and his words and the actions and words of his enablers would have incited his followers to violence, which we clearly saw. What's the difference? Five people died last Wednesday, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was just trying to do his job, to keep the Capitol safe and to keep us safe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what do you say to the arguments that are out there among some Republicans that he's only got, what, seven, eight days left in office as president; what good does it serve to make this move against him? REP. VAL DEMINGS: I go back, Judy, to the vice president could remove him immediately, and a portion of the Cabinet. They have chosen not to do that. But us fulfilling our congress -- or constitutional responsibility has nothing to do with the clock. The president incited a riot. He incited people to try to come to the Capitol and overthrow

the government to prevent us from doing our work. He has to be held accountable for that. This is about accountability. And since the vice president will not invoke the 25th Amendment, that leaves us with impeachment. We're going

to live up to our constitutional responsibility, and we will be having that vote on tomorrow. JUDY WOODRUFF: And since Democrats are in the majority, it sounds as if there's nothing to stop the impeachment vote from passing. I do want to also ask you, Congresswoman Demings, about what happened last week. Based on what

you have been learning, do you now believe that there was inside help for the rioters, either from law enforcement or from members of Congress, for what happened last Wednesday? REP. VAL DEMINGS: Well, first of all, let me say that the United States Capitol Police, those officers on the front lines did an amazing job, considering they were understaffed, did not have adequate resources, or support from other agencies. They did an amazing job. However, once the Capitol was breached, it does appear that some of the rioters knew exactly where they were going. There were offices, as you have heard earlier, that are unmarked. There are many members who don't know where those offices are. But the rioters certainly knew where to go. And so we're going to be looking into everything. As you know, there are several investigations

going on. And we have to look at every person who may have had something to do with coordinating this vicious and violent attack. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you believe the consequences should be for members of Congress who might have been involved or the members of Congress who spoke at the rally encouraging the crowd who showed up in Washington last week? REP. VAL DEMINGS: You mean members who said things like taking names, and kicking ass? I think the -- if you look at statements that were made before or during the rally, and then, immediately, the crowd marched down to the Capitol and tried to do just that, breaching the Capitol. You heard the threats against the vice president and others.

And so, certainly, any member of Congress, starting with them, who may have participated in this effort to overthrow the government, five people dead, one of them a police officer, certainly must be held accountable, along with the president of the United States. JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that mean, holding them accountable? What should happen? REP. VAL DEMINGS: Well, the investigation has to move forward, so we can understand exactly what role they played. We know that there will be internal investigations from the Committee on Ethics. There will also

be, as you know, criminal investigations that are ongoing. So, once testimony comes in, witnesses come forward, watching the video, learning exactly what role any member of Congress played, they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, if they violated any laws. JUDY WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Val Demings, we are certainly going to be watching very closely tomorrow as this historic second move to impeach President Trump takes place. Thank you very much. REP. VAL DEMINGS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as you just are hearing, Democrats are nearly unanimous in their decision to impeach President Trump a second time. The question is, what about Republicans? Congressman Tom Reed of New York is, among other things, the co-chair of the Problems Solvers Caucus, and he joins me now. Congressman Reed, thank you very much for joining us. Where do things stand right now? We are hearing there are at least two Republican House members who say they will vote to impeach, Congressman Katko of New York, Congresswoman Cheney of Wyoming, and I'm hearing -- and, of course, Congressman Kinzinger, who had already said he would vote to impeach. Where are you on this? REP. TOM REED (R-NY): Well, thank you for having me on, Judy. And I am adamantly opposed to impeachment. And I issued an op-ed. New York Times wrote

about it -- or picked it up. But this is a very concerning time for our country. And this is not just about the events of January 6. This is also about our Constitution and what impeachment means in regards to when someone is impeached and what that means to the institution of Congress, the institution of the executive branch.

But, also, we have constitutional free speech issues that are involved here that need to be vetted. And snap impeachment, to me, is something that is a rush to judgment. We need those investigations. And that's why I'm offering an alternative path in regards to censure as an appropriate remedy at this point in time, and then continue down this path to see whatever accountable measures need to be deployed, if any. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what about the comments by other Republicans in the House, like Congresswoman Cheney, who say, because of the president's direct role in encouraging and inciting what happened at the Capitol, he should be removed? REP. TOM REED: You know, I do respect all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I think I have demonstrated, I hope, to my colleagues, as well as to the country, in our involvement over the years of being a proud Republican, but working with proud Democrats, and having those dialogues, and especially on matters of conscience.

And I think my colleague Liz Cheney mentioned that this is a vote of conscience. This is about the Constitution. This one of those deep votes that we have to really reflect upon.

And so I respect her conclusion, but I obviously disagree with it. And it's based on my read of the Constitution, my oath to the Constitution, and also the snap impeachment of what it will do to future impeachments, what it will do to our due process rights. What will it do to our constitutional free speech rights? That even deplorable comments still have to be looked at in regards to the protections the Constitution provides for free speech.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you surprised at the reporting that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is now in favor of impeaching the president? REP. TOM REED: You know, I have seen these reports, and I have not seen commentary directly from Mitch McConnell. And I think that is also the frenzy. And I try to be a reasoned member of Congress. I try to take a deep breath and only comment on the things that I know firsthand or the evidence that's been presented to me. And I think these reports on the majority leader

are coming from aides and other folks and things like that. And rather than comment on news reports, especially at this critical time in our country's history, I try to take a measured response and let Mitch McConnell speak for themself, let Liz Cheney speak for themselves, and, most importantly, try to listen and talk with the American people. Now is the time to unite the country. Now is the time to calm the country, not add the

flames of division, not add to further commentary, and especially commentary that may be misreported, that may be erroneous. So, I will let each member speak for themselves. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I know a lot of people certainly agree with you about uniting the country. I do want to ask you, though. There are reports that, among House Republicans, your leadership is not lobbying members to oppose impeachment. What directions are you getting for the leadership of the party in the House? REP. TOM REED: You know, we had a lengthy conversation the other day as a -- with a conference meeting.

And just -- I think they recognize -- and rightfully so -- this is a vote of conscience. This is a vote based on constitutional principles. And when it comes to that, in the Republican Party that I believe in, that is something I respect.

We are proud Republicans. We are proud of our belief structure, and we have the ability to respect our colleagues in regards to the issues they take conclusions based on their conscience. Now, to colleagues that may be thinking, well, how do I use this for political advantage, and, as I said on the issue on the Electoral College vote to my colleagues, if you're playing politics with this, now is not the time for this. This is a time to rise.

This is the time to lead the American people and win and guide the American people, not with political calculations, but what is right, based on the Constitution and your heart and your conscience. JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you speaking about censure, Congressman. What do you believe President Trump's future should be in the Republican Party? REP. TOM REED: You know, I think a lot is going to depend on how we get between now and January 20.

I think we will have to keep a very close eye on it. But the future in the Republican Party, with President Trump, I think the ideas and policies that he has inspired is something that we're going to have continuation of a debate and be part of. But I think what we really have to keep an eye on is, how do we get between now and the 20th to see where that legacy goes? But I think, at the end of the day, I just encourage the president. And, remember, I was one of the first eight to endorse him. I know him as an individual. And I encourage him, at this point in time, get us through a peaceful transition to the 20th. No more violence. Lower the temperature, not rise it.

(CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. Are you saying you're -- it's important to watch what happens between now and the 20th because you're concerned that he may do something? REP. TOM REED: Oh, I think he has the ability to obviously influence millions of Americans. And so I think we're all very sensitive. And we're getting reports of additional violence potentially that's coming out. We're getting FBI reports. You have seen public reports

on that. And I think it's important just to see how everyone reacts right now. And that's why I'm also opposed to snap impeachment, because I believe that's going to add to the potential incitement of violence, that people respond to that because we're rushing to this judgment. And so I encourage people, both sides of the aisle, all colleagues, now is not the time to raise temperature. Now is the time to lower temperature in America and try to unite the

country. And, obviously, what the president does between now and the 20th is a very important piece of time to judge what future role he will have in the Republican Party, if any. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just in a quick sentence, what do you want the president right now to say to the American people, if anything? REP. TOM REED: I would hope the president would reaffirm his commitment to a peaceful transfer of power to president-elect Biden becoming President Biden on the 20th and to lower the temperature. Everyone needs to lower the temperature, and do not encourage any type of additional violence. JUDY WOODRUFF: Representative Tom Reed of New York, we thank you very much for joining us.

REP. TOM REED: Thank you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: President Trump traveled to Texas to showcase his signature border wall eight days before he is due to leave office. He stopped outside the city of Alamo, touting the wall project. Most of the construction replaced outdated barriers already in place along that stretch.

On the pandemic, the Trump administration now says that it's releasing all available vaccine to speed up inoculations. President-elect Biden had called for just that step. The secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said today that faster production guarantees enough vaccine for first and second doses. ALEX AZAR, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary: We can now ship all of the doses

that had been held in physical reserve, with second doses being supplied by doses coming off of manufacturing lines with quality control. Going forward, each week, doses available will be released to first cover the needed second doses, and then cover additional first vaccinations. JUDY WOODRUFF: Federal officials also announced that, as of January 26, anyone flying to the U.S. will have to have a negative COVID test within three days of flying. We will focus on all of this after the news summary.

Two men on federal death row have tested positive for COVID-19, and a federal judge has halted their executions set for this week. Separately, another judge stopped the first federal execution of a woman in nearly 70 years. He ordered a competency hearing. Federal executions resumed last year after 17 years without one. President-elect Biden is expected to oppose them. Late today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal rule that women must visit doctors or clinics in person to get abortion pills during the pandemic. By 6-3, the justice has granted a Trump administration appeal to enforce the rule. The rule could be reversed when

the Biden administration takes office. The Supreme Court of India the Supreme Court of India today halted the implementation of agricultural laws that prompted farmers to blockade New Delhi. For weeks, thousands of farmers have camped on major highways, insisting the laws will cut their income. Some said

that today's court action is not enough. KRISHAN PAL CHAUDHARY, Farmer (through translator): All farmers and all farmer organizations respect the Supreme Court, but I find the Supreme Court's policy wrong. They have put on hold the laws and they think the farmers will leave this protest site. This will never happen, because we demand the repeal of the laws.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The court today ordered that a committee of experts be created to negotiate a solution. Back in this country, Twitter has suspended more than 70,000 accounts linked to the far right QAnon conspiracy theory. That's in the wake of last week's assault on the U.S. Capitol. The social media giant says it is acting against online behavior that -- quote -- "has the potential to lead to offline harm."

On Wall Street, stocks had a relatively quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 60 points to close at 31068. The Nasdaq rose 36 points, and the S&P 500 added a single point. And casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has died after a long illness. He was a billionaire who gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican politicians, including President Trump. He was also a strong pro-Israel voice, and pushed for relocating

the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem back in 2018. Sheldon Adelson was 87 years old. Still to come on the "NewsHour": the glacial pace of the U.S. vaccine campaign raises questions;

the leaders of UNICEF and the World Food Program discuss a challenging year ahead; and the economic hardships wrought by the pandemic disproportionately affect college students of color. Operation Warp Speed may have produced effective COVID vaccines in record time, but administering them has been another matter. The CDC says only about nine million of the more than 25 million doses distributed have actually been given.

As John Yang reports, the Trump administration today made big changes to the program. JOHN YANG: Judy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the changes. The administration will begin to release all available doses of the vaccine. It had been

holding back roughly half because these are two-shot vaccines. But officials are now confident that the supply is sufficient. It's urging states to vaccinate anyone 65 or older and anyone with an underlying medical condition that could threaten their life if they get COVID. It will send more doses to states that are vaccinating people more efficiently. And it will encourage states to set up more places to get the vaccine.

All this comes in advance of what's expected to be an announcement from president-elect Joe Biden of his vaccination plans. Jennifer Nuzzo is an epidemiologist at the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. And she joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.

Why make these changes, or why was it necessary for the officials to make these changes now? And were these the right changes to make? DR. JENNIFER NUZZO, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Well, I think these changes reflect the fact that people are frustrated that vaccines aren't rolling out as quickly as had been promised. You know, initially, we had heard that, by the end of the year, 20 million Americans would be vaccinated. And we are very far away from having achieved that goal.

And so the approach that was initially taken, which would be to give the vaccine to the highest priority group, I think, is still an important goal, but it's a very slow, methodical, step-wise goal, and it's not going to achieve the vaccination numbers that I think people were very much expecting. JOHN YANG: Is there a risk, or are there potential downsides to this new strategy? DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Sure. Well, one of the risks is just that, as we open it up broadly, we lose the ability to target what still limited vaccine supplies we have for the people that we think are either at highest risk due to exposure. And you can understand why that was an initial priority

in a lot of places. Yet, at the same time, there are still a lot of people, particularly those 65 and older, who are at greatest risk of becoming hospitalized and dying from this virus. So, you can see the real tension and tradeoffs there.

JOHN YANG: You know, we're sort of at an inflection point with the change of administrations, a chance to sort of rethink this whole strategy, and perhaps make even bigger changes. Are there things in particular that you would urge the Biden administration or his people who are coming in to think about approaching this program differently? DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Well, up until now, we have basically just focused on developing the vaccine.

And the federal response was to develop the vaccine and just sort of hand it off to the states, give them some high-level guidance, but basically say, good luck. That clearly has not achieved what we need it to achieve. And so now I think there is an opportunity to say, how can we have a national strategy? What federal resources can be brought to bear to help states with this very audacious goal of trying to conduct the largest vaccination campaign this country has ever done in modern history? So, I think recognizing that the federal government can't just take a light touch on this issue and really needs to dig in and help states, because the sooner we get all states protected, the sooner our lives can get back to normal, we can restore our economy, et cetera.

JOHN YANG: You work at -- with health care workers at John Hopkins. And I wonder if you can help laypeople like myself understand what seems to be sort of an oddity, the fact that there are, at least anecdotally, a large number of health care workers who are reluctant to take this vaccine. Help us explain that. DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Sure.

So, this is something that we see every year. Health care workers, though they work in facilities that are surrounded by science, they're regular people, too, and they are subject to the same disinformation campaigns that are waging against the American public to try to discourage them against getting vaccinated. So, it's very much something that we have to -- should have anticipated and should have planned for how to boost confidence and to educate and to encourage people, not only about the importance of getting vaccinated, the safety of vaccines, and the benefits of getting vaccinated, but also, again, about the threat that this virus poses. And that's another dimension that is somewhat new. Seasonal influenza isn't typically politicized

at the same level that COVID-19 has. And you have people who just openly deny the existence of the virus and deny it as a threat to them. And if people fall into those categories, you can imagine why they might not be so willing to get vaccinated. JOHN YANG: And how concerned are you that, a year into this or almost a year into this, this nation still hasn't been able to sort of stem the roller coaster effect of cases, of new cases? DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: We are at the worst point that we have ever been. The case numbers continue to accelerate. The U.S. adds about a million cases at least every four days. So that is extraordinary

growth in cases. And you would think, by this point, we would have a better strategy for trying to control the virus. It's great that we have vaccines. It's a scientific gift that we have a vaccine now, but, as you can see, the vaccines are rolling out slowly.

And, in the meantime, we still have to use the other measures that we have been trying to use for the past year to control the spread. We have to increase our testing. We have to make sure everybody who tests positive is able to stay home, so that they don't infect others. We need to do more contact tracing, so that we understand in what environments this virus is transmitting. And we need to make sure that anyone who's a contact of a case is able to stay home. Those efforts have ground to a halt as of late. And that's a really worrisome situation to be in, given the case growth that we have seen, and given the fact that we haven't yet seen the full effects of what the holiday gatherings will likely due to the acceleration of our case numbers.

JOHN YANG: Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, thank you very much. DR. JENNIFER NUZZO: Thanks for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, as the U.S. endures the rage of the post-election and the ravages

of the pandemic, we turn our sights overseas and to the ongoing calamities of COVID-19, hunger, deprivation, and the plights of children. Here's Amna Nawaz with two leaders working to solve these crises. AMNA NAWAZ: Even before the pandemic, feeding the world's hungry and helping children in need were enormous tasks. Now the coronavirus made those groups even more vulnerable. Global conflicts have driven millions from their homes, spreading illness and famine in their wake. And impoverished nations are finding themselves at the mercy of wealthy ones, as the world works to find its way out of the pandemic.

Joining me now are two heads of United Nations agencies who dedicate their work to addressing those challenges. David Beasley is the executive director of the World Food Program. And Henrietta Fore is the executive director of UNICEF, the U.N.'s Children's Fund.

Welcome to you both, and thank you for making the time. David Beasley, I want to start with you, because, when we last spoke, you were warning that the number of people on the brink of starvation worldwide had risen to 270 million during the pandemic. You were calling on the world's wealthiest, on the billionaires to step up, to show that they care. What has happened since then? Has it gotten any better or just worse? DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director, World Food Program: Well, it's gotten worse in so many different ways. And the bad news is the number of people, including children, as Henrietta can so eloquently state. The number that is rising -- on the brink of starvation, has risen from 135 million to 270 million people. And the sad fact is, there's $400 trillion worth of wealth. And

just in the past many months, I mean, literally during the pandemic, billionaires made $5.2 billion in increased wealth per day. And all we are asking for is $5 billion to avert famine around the world. And I don't

think that's too much to ask. AMNA NAWAZ: Henrietta, you have also been raising warning flags specifically about what children are going through. The UNICEF issued a report in November of last year about a lost generation of children worldwide. What did you mean by that? HENRIETTA FORE, Executive Director, UNICEF: So, we have rising inequality. We have a distressing amount of new families that are falling into poverty. And because of that, we worry a great deal about children. It is now becoming a child

rights crisis. They are missing out on education. They are often going hungry. And it means that many children will be losing out on the futures that we had anticipated as a world. And if you lose the children, you lose your futures of the world. So, it's something we have to attend to. There are many, many children right now that are suffering. And we can do something about it. AMNA NAWAZ: One of the alarming stats from that lost generation report was that -- and this is at the end of last year -- almost 600 million students were affected across dozens of countrywide school closures. That's the equivalent of 33 percent, one-third, of

enrolled students on the planet. Henrietta, some of those gaps that existed before are getting wider. Can they be closed? HENRIETTA FORE: Well, we think they can be. But you're absolutely right, Amna. This is a part of history we have never seen before, with 1.6 billion children who were out of school during the pandemic. And many schools have not reopened.

And what this means for a child is that they miss their future. They miss the ability to learn. They miss their friends. They miss their ability to have a school meal, to have health at a school, a safe place from violence. And what we have now as a world is enough technologies and enough understanding that we need remote and distance learning that we could do something about it. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect every school and every learner in the world to education. And we should do that. We could get this done in the next three to four years. So, we shouldn't

have to deal with this as a world. We could overcome it. It's a real opportunity for us. AMNA NAWAZ: David Beasley, you mentioned putting that call out to the world's richest and trying to get them to step up. What will it take? What would it take now, in the coming weeks and months, to meet the need, as it exists right now, before it gets worse? DAVID BEASLEY: The governments are really spread thin right now, Amna. And they are really struggling. And so we're not asking the billionaires to step every single year, but this year is truly a hunger pandemic with a COVID pandemic. And if the billionaires will step up, what can happen is that we will avert famine, in other words, mass starvation. We will avert destabilization

and mass migration. And that will cost trillions of dollars, economies will collapse, and people will suffer around the world. So, we're really asking the world's billionaires, please, just this one time, step up and help us. Show the world you care, and let the world know that we truly are in

this together and we can get through it together. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Henrietta, you and David have both seen this on the front lines. You travel the world all the time, safely as you can, to see it. You were actually in Syria together, I understand, last year.

But there's this crisis that we are all dealing with, which is, of course, the pandemic. And I want to ask you about these plans that UNICEF has outlined to transport potentially 850 tons of COVID-19 vaccines per month on behalf of COVAX. That's the global initiative to ensure vaccine delivery goes to all of those, including those with the greatest need. That has to be a massive logistical operation.

HENRIETTA FORE: Amna, it is. We have currently two billion vaccines that go through our doors, and this is just for regular childhood immunizations, important immunizations against, let's say, measles, and polio. But, with COVID, we are now anticipating another two billion vaccines will come through our doors for 2021. And we need to get these approved. We need to get them allocated out to the countries. We need to get them into the countries. And we need to make sure that the countries have good cold chains, that they have ways to train their health care workers, that they have good allocation systems, and that they have good education, public awareness about what vaccines are, who they're for, and in what order, and where you get one. But vaccines can save lives. But this is a massive undertaking we are taking as a world.

And the COVAX facility is looking after the countries that are low- or lower-middle-income countries. It's very important that this light at the end of the tunnel, as we call the vaccines, it is a light that shines on everyone. So, we have to be able to allocate them to all countries.

AMNA NAWAZ: If you don't mind, before you go, I understand you're both here in your capacities as United Nations officials, but I would want to hear briefly from you on this moment of unrest we're experiencing here back home, because you have both served in political leadership here. So, David, I will start with you. As you're out on the front lines serving the world's neediest and trying to bring them back from the brink, what's it been like to watch the political violence back here? DAVID BEASLEY: Well, Henrietta and I are out on the front lines in destabilized nations and war and conflict all around the world. So, we see a lot of destabilization.

But when you see that on your own home front, it's heartbreaking. And, honestly, I think the people in America need to settle down a little bit. We need to appreciate what we have, because we have got so much to be thankful for. And the greatest teaching on Earth is love your neighbor as yourself, love your neighbor as your equal. We need to really -- America is such an amazing nation. It gives us $3.75 billion to help feed people around the world. And so America is great because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

And what happened last week was not good, nor great. But I'm one of those that believes the sun is rising, and we're going to have a great day and future ahead of us. And people need to come together. And Henrietta and I will do everything we can to make sure that

that happens. AMNA NAWAZ: Henrietta, what about you? What's been your reaction to the news here? HENRIETTA FORE: Well, building on David, one of the things I hope for in the future is that we really use American know-how. Many of us have come from the business sector and do realize the strength of technology and of people, of ideas, and of the products and services that we have in America. This is the time when they can really be put to use in the world. The world has a crisis before

it. And if there's anyone who is good at that, it's American industry and American know-how. So, if we can pair that with American ideas and ideals with our leadership around the world, it will help everyone. And it means that we can bring a new era of how to look at humanity and how to look at civilization.

AMNA NAWAZ: Some messages of optimism I think we could all use right now. That is Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, and David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program. Thank you to you both. DAVID BEASLEY: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's turn now to a different impact of COVID on higher education. Typically, during a recession, community college enrollment goes up, as unemployed workers start looking for new skills. But that is not happening now.

It could mean trouble for the economy going forward, particularly for low-income students. Hari Sreenivasan has our story. It's part of our ongoing series Rethinking College. ANDREW CROWLEY, College Student: Everybody goes through those days where they just feel like, well, maybe I should just stop, and maybe I should just give up, or maybe I should just say, well, it's not even worth it. HARI SREENIVASAN: It's been one of those days for Andrew Crowley, one of those years. He's

been trying to focus on his studies at Columbus State Community College, but his mom died of cancer recently. He hoped to make more time for schoolwork by reducing his hours at Walmart. ANDREW CROWLEY: I tried to explain to them, well, I need to cut back some of my time so I can be able to study. And they didn't really, like, kind of agree with me on that. HARI SREENIVASAN: So, he says, they let him go.

ANDREW CROWLEY: Which kind of led me to be homeless. HARI SREENIVASAN: Crowley doesn't want you to feel sorry for him. He stuck it out. He even says he maintained A's and B's while living in a shelter during a pandemic. But he came close to being part of a troubling statistic this fall. Community colleges have

seen enrollment plummet 10.1 percent compared to last year, nearly 21 percent among freshmen and almost a 30 percent drop for freshmen who are either Black, Hispanic or Native American in each group. The total loss at public two-year schools? More than 540,000 fewer students compared to last fall, put another way, more than the population of Atlanta. DESIREE POLK-BLAND, Vice President for Student Affairs, Columbus State Community College: Our students have life, right? HARI SREENIVASAN: Desiree Polk-Bland, Columbus state's vice president for student affairs, says some of her colleagues took it as a red flag when Crowley began to participate less in his classes. They persuaded him to share his troubles. Then they got him a job at this campus-based food pantry and found him permanent housing. DESIREE POLK-BLAND: All of these factors interfere with being a successful student.

Anything that takes your attention away from going to class, studying, spending time with the material ends up being a factor that impact your ability to continue as a student. HARI SREENIVASAN: Fifty-six percent of Black and Hispanic students have reported that COVID-19 is very likely or likely to force them out of school, compared to 44 percent of whites. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment, says the drop among freshman students in particular this fall was unprecedented. Doug Shapiro is the executive research director. DOUG SHAPIRO, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center: These are truly staggering drops just in terms of the quantities, the size of the declines.

College enrollments generally have been slowly shrinking every year pretty much since the end of the Great Recession, but it's never been more than 1 or 2 percentage points. We have never seen anything like this. HARI SREENIVASAN: Only 13 percent of students who drop out return to college, according to the group. DOUG SHAPIRO: These are the most -- often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged students, who will have real difficulties ever getting back on track educationally.

HARI SREENIVASAN: There are the logistical challenges, like what Liliana Palafox faces, homeschooling and caring for her 6-year-old daughter, without so much as a quiet space to study, that is, when the Internet connection actually works. LILIANA PALAFOX, College Student: The Internet dropping, not connecting right away, having to move all around the house to be able to get signal, and then also, like, my daughter or my husband sometimes using the hot spot. So, we share it. HARI SREENIVASAN: Then there are the deeper inequalities the pandemic has laid bare. TYLER LOPEZ, College Student: My father passed away due to COVID-19 while he was in the HARI SREENIVASAN: Tyler Lopez's father was already in the hospital with multiple sclerosis when the pandemic struck. He died of COVID-19 in the spring. Lopez tried to channel his grief into schoolwork. He's a sophomore studying jazz drumming at

New Jersey City University. TYLER LOPEZ: Multiple times, I thought about quitting. I thought about just, forget it all.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Music kept him moving forward. TYLER LOPEZ: The drums, that's what prevented it, my love for music. It is hard, but the love outweighs the stress. HARI SREENIVASAN: Schools are doing what they can to keep students enrolled. Lopez's school, New Jersey City University, is a campus where the majority of students are minorities and many are from the lowest income bracket. The school provided loaner

laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots for homebound studies, in person classes for visual or high-touch programs, open dorms and libraries for those who need them, and socially distanced sports teams operating on a limited basis. But in a year like this, it hasn't always been enough, says Jodi Bailey, the school's associate vice president of student affairs. Some students have simply disappeared. JODI BAILEY, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, New Jersey City University: I worry about them because of rent, and I worry about them because of food. And I worry about them because of the medical issues that their families have. We know that low-income and minority families in general don't seek out medical assistance as quickly as they should, for a variety of reasons. And COVID could tear their families apart. I worry for them.

MELANIE ALVAREZ, College Student: If my friends are doing it, then we should all take a break together. HARI SREENIVASAN: Melanie Alvarez, a senior at California State University at Northridge, has felt nearly all of the pressure points and one more. She was the first to graduate high school in her family, the first to go to college. All eyes have been on her. MELANIE ALVAREZ: The pandemic happened. Like, I think my brother and my sister were all

looking to me, like, OK, what is she going to do? Is she going to drop out? Is she going to stay in college? And it was hard to tell my brother, like, you have to push through, because I also felt at one point that I didn't want to continue anymore. HARI SREENIVASAN: Alvarez says close friends and study partners have taken a break in recent months, but she decided to continue. The stakes seemed too high. MELANIE ALVAREZ: My parents have always told me, like, there's nothing that we can inherit to you, other than the education. Other than motivation, there's nothing that we can give to you.

So, my parents' motivation to go to school is always number one, and I'm always looking out for my younger siblings. So, they are definitely following in my footsteps. HARI SREENIVASAN: Her brother recently enrolled in community college. So, for now, Alvarez says, she will keep moving. The question is, how many others will get stopped in their tracks? For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Hari Sreenivasan. JUDY WOODRUFF: Seventy-five percent of traditional college-age students report poor mental health tied to the pandemic.

We will examine the impact in our Rethinking College series next Tuesday. And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow for our special live coverage of the second impeachment vote in the U.S. House for President Trump. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we will see you soon.

2021-01-17 22:53

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