tv CBS Evening News With Norah O Donnell CBS January 18, 2022 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
>> there drinking water is primarily rainwater, so that is all contaminated with the ash from the volcanic ♪ ♪ ♪ captioning sponsored by cbs >> o'donnell: tonight, the big news-- free covid tests that you can get shipped to your home. why the biden administration launched the web site early, and how you can place your order. the signs of hope and despair in the battle against covid. some areas see a decline in cases and hospitalizations, but in places like oklahoma city, there are no i.c.u. beds left. the concern tonight that up to 300,000 more americans could die in the next two months. 5g fears: the roll-out of an ultra-fast wireless network delayed near some of the nation's airports. why airlines warn the mobile technology could bring catastrophic disruptions. tonight, the news about the airlines already canceling flights. home explosion rocks the bronx,
killing at least one person and injuring eight. what caused the blast? officers charged in the shooting death of an eight-year-old girl. how a high school football game turned deadly. record airport gun seizures. nearly 6,000 firearms found at t.s.a. checkpoints in 2021. and wait until you hear how many were loaded. voting rights showdown: we go to michigan to see how a republican voting law will play in the battleground state. and give with me: the nationwide call to arms after the red cross declared the first-ever blood crisis. your incredible response. this is the "cbs evening news" with norah o'donnell, reporting from the nation's capital. >> o'donnell: good evening to our viewers in the west, and thank you for joining us. it is a tale of two americas in the ongoing battle against the omicron variant.
some parts of the country can see light at the end of the tunnel, while others are seeing the biggest surge in cases since the start of the pandemic. in the northeast, cases and hospitalizations are falling after hitting a peak about a week ago. in new york city, cases have dropped 44%, and hospitalizations are down 50% in just the last seven days. but in other parts of the country, omicron is spreading like wildfire, with more than 5.4 million new infections last week. hospitals in oklahoma city, well, they have a dire warning tonight. they're at a breaking point. in an extraordinary open letter, the major healthcare systems write, "soon, you or a loved one, may need us for life-saving care, whether for a stroke, emergency appendectomy, trauma from a car accident and we might not be able to help." can you imagine? we have breaking news coming in. cbs news has learned the biden administration will announce tomorrow it plans to provide 400 million n-95 masks for free to americans.
cbs' manuel bojorquez is going to lead off our broadcast from charlotte, north carolina, where cases are up nearly 700% since last month. good evening, manny. >> reporter: good evening, norah. here in north carolina, even as cases surged, some testing sites had to shut down over the weekend due to the winter storm, and there could be more bad weather on the way this weekend. but tonight, the federal government says there's another option for the near future. today, as long lines persist at some testing sites across the country, the federal government's web site to order rapid tests, covidtests.gov, is live. people can order up to four tests per household, which will ship within seven to 12 days, the latest effort to try toes and hospitalizations. this comes as fears that omicron, which may cause less severe disease, may cause more deaths. modelers are predicting 50,000 to 300,000 more americans could die by mid-march. >> i think the omicron surge is
going to be one that will be up and down in most locations in five to six weeks. it is going to be a challenge to get through those five to six weeks. >> reporter: as omicron continues its siege, some states are returning to pandemic protocols in schools. massachusetts public schools today announced weekly at-home rapid tests will be available for students and staff. nationwide, more than 6,000 schools were disrupted one or more days last week. meanwhile, oklahoma city's four major hospital systems say they've run out of i.c.u. beds due to this latest surge. in north carolina, covid-related hospitalizations are at a pandemic high. currently, one in three people test positive. dr. katie passaretti is chief epidemiologist for atrium health in charlotte, where 156 covid patients are on life support, 92% of them unvaccinated. for people who think omicron is not that big of a deal, you're saying what you're seeing inside those hospital walls is a big deal.
>> yeah and, you know, throughout the pandemic, the experience of healthcare workers taking care of the sickest of sick patients, watching young people that are unvaccinated pass away from covid, it's incredibly, incredibly heartbreaking and devastating. >> reporter: nationally, staffing shortages at some hospitals have started to subside, likely, or possibly, due to that shorter c.d.c. recommended quarantine time. but here in north carolina, the shortages remain a real concern. in fact, fema has dispatched a total of 25 ambulances with two- person crews to assist in a dozen counties here. norah. >> o'donnell: manny bojorquez, thank you. well, there's a new development today in the battle between major u.s. airlines and telecommunications companies over the planned launch of new 5g wireless services. airlines warn of catastrophic disruptions, and they want the new service to be banned within two miles of airport runways. cbs' kris van cleave has the newest information.
>> reporter: fearing massive flight disruptions as soon as wednesday morning, an 11th hour compromise to a bureaucratic standoff that put cell phone providers and airlines on a collision course, with the white house stepping in to mediate. >> certainly, minimizing flight disruptions, ensuring safety in travel is a top priority. >> reporter: at&t and verizon will activate more than 90% of their ultra-fast 5g wireless networks as planned wednesday. but cell phone towers within a two-mile radius of many of the natin's busiest airports will remain off-line, specifically to avoid potential interference with cockpit systems that help pilots land in bad weather and low visibility. united c.e.o. scott kirby had warned of potential catastrophe. >> 5g is now the biggest issue facing the airline industry. it's remarkable to say in a world where we're still in covid. >> reporter: without this compromise, airlines said 1100 flights a day could be delayed, diverted or canceled due to 5g, with national commerce grounding to a halt.
the f.a.a. says it still expects some issues. the agency has only cleared equipment on about 45% of airliners to operate with 5g networks. already, emirates, a.n.a., j.a.l., and air india canceled flights to several u.s. cities until the situation was worked out. airline industry analyst henry harteveldt: >> if you don't have to travel on wednesday, don't. if you can postpone your trip, even 24 hours, you may be better off. i think wednesday's going to be a very chaotic day. >> reporter: the threat of 5g- related flight disruptions comes after a trying month for fliers, who have suffered through tens of thousands of delays and cancellations due to weather and covid-19 staffing issues. >> it's a "fasten your seat belt, hang on" kind of week and the next few weeks as well. >> o'donnell: and kris van cleave joins us now from denver international airport. so, kris, how scary is this? >> reporter: airlines remain concerned, even with this deal. a senior f.a.a. official told me not long ago he expects there
will be some "bumps" tomorrow and that's because more than half of airliners aren't approved to use that equipment to land in low visibility at some 82 airports where 5g will be active tomorrow. that could certainly lead to unpredicted disruptions, which is why the airlines are scrambling to figure out what their schedules are going to look like tomorrow. norah. >> o'donnell: kris van cleave with all the details. thanks. and there's breaking news: a significant escalation into the investigation of the january 6 attack on the capitol. we have learned the congressional committee has issued subpoenas to members of trump's family and his closest advisers, including rudy giuliani. and tonight, cnn is reporting the committee obtained phone records for eric trump, as well as donald trump jr.'s fiance, kimberly guilfoyle. all right, it was a scary scene in the bronx today when a suspected gas explosion resulted in the collapse of an apartment building. one person was killed and many others were injured, including police officers who rushed in to save lives. cbs' nancy chen is at the scene.
>> reporter: gone in an instant. this three-story bronx building was obliterated in an explosion just before noon that rocked the neighborhood. >> it sounded like a bomb. that's-- that's the only thing-- i-- that's the only thing i can compare it to, like a bomb went off. >> reporter: two adjacent buildings were quickly engulfed, flames pouring from windows and doors as firefighters quickly fought to protect the rest of the block. a 77-year-old woman died from apparent smoke inhalation. the billowing smoke also overwhelmed three others. >> we took those people and we got them to a hospital quickly. >> reporter: this body cam footage shows police searching for survivors inside. >> get her over the couch! >> reporter: five officers who rushed in suffered injuries from smoke inhalation. >> our actions saved lives. >> reporter: today's explosion came a little more than a week after 17 people were killed in a high-rise apartment fire less than three miles away in the
same borough. eight children died from smoke inhalation after a space heater malfunctioned. >> this tragic and frightening event after the inferno we saw just days ago just really adds the pressure on the bronx. >> reporter: late this afternoon, fire officials said someone did report smelling gas shortly before the explosion, but it's unclear if there was a gas leak. they say they're still investigating what caused this to happen. norah. >> o'donnell: nancy chen on the scene, thank you. well, in a stunning twist today, three suburban philadelphia police officers were charged in the shooting death last summer of an eight-year-old girl. they fired into a crowd trying to break up a gun fight. we get more now from cbs' meg oliver. >> reporter: nearly five months after the shooting of eight- year-old fanta bility, three sharon hill police officers were charged in connection with her death. today, following a grand jury investigation, officers devon smith, sean dolan, and brian
devaney were each charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and 10 counts of reckless endangerment. when did you determine that the fatal bullet was from an officer's gun? >> we initially determined back in i think the september time frame. we're now sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer shoot not only killed fanta bility, but they also wounded three other young people. >> reporter: the young girl was killed last summer after two teens exchanged gunfire at the end of a football game. >> shots fired! shots fired! >> reporter: the three responding officers fired 25 rounds, striking four people, including young fanta and her 12-year-old sister. >> they returned fire at the wrong target in the wrong direction and into a group of people. that's what they're being held accountable for. >> reporter: attorney bruce castor represents the bility family. >> reporter: this one was a bright, a bright shining light, the kind of person that made people happy just by looking at her. and to have her gone is just a
terrible, terrible tragedy. >> reporter: initially, the two teens who opened fire at each other were the only ones charged in her death. the district attorney now withdrawing those charges. >> what we're trying to do here is hold everyone accountable for their actions that night. and also to make sure we can, as a community, at the end of this, begin to heal. >> reporter: the officers' attorneys released a joint statement today, maintaining their innocence, saying they rushed to the sound of gunshots to protect the community. norah. >> o'donnell: our thanks to meg oliver. we turn now to an alarming trend at america's airports. the t.s.a. today reported a record number of guns at checkpoints in 2021. and you may be shocked by how many of them were loaded. the t.s.a. administrator spoke exclusively to cbs' errol barnett. >> it's one of the most alarming things we see is the number of weapons in our checkpoints. >> reporter: a record-breaking year at t.s.a. checkpoints: nearly 6,000 guns detected at airports nationwide.
that's up 35% from 2019, even as travel remained below pre- pandemic levels. and how many of these firearms are loaded? >> the vast majority are loaded. about 86% of those firearms are loaded. >> reporter: chaos at atlanta's hartsfield-jackson after a t.s.a. officer found a loaded gun in a passenger's bag. that passenger then reached in, accidentally discharging it. >> well, that illustrates why loaded weapons are so dangerous, because it's very easy to discharge. >> reporter: that airport had the most firearms intercepted-- 507 detected, up from 323. dallas, houston, phoenix, and nashville round out the top five. tension and stress are already high at airports over flight delays, mask mandates, and covid concerns. phoenix's sky harbor closed two checkpoints this month due to staffing shortages. >> these staffing shortages are prevalent across the country. we have standards of performance for our screening operations.
>> gun sales are up in america. >> reporter: in fact, they're soaring, with a record 21 million background checks conducted for the sale of a firearm in 2020, and 40% were new gun owners. >> for those who do choose to travel with their firearm, understand it is possible, and there's a way to do that. >> reporter: and this is the legal method: guns must be unloaded, locked in hard-shell checked luggage, and of course declared with the airline. now, violators can face fines almost $14,000, norah, and jail time. >> o'donnell: errol barnett, thank you. well, tonight, the senate is headed for a showdown on voting rights. democrats are struggling to pass legislation they argue would protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of all federal elections. we get the latest from cbs' scott macfarlane. >> reporter: democrats know they're holding a losing hand. >> senate democrats are under no illusion that we face difficult odds. >> reporter: with one pair of
holdouts in their own party, resisting calls to flip senate procedure and pass voting right laws that would allow early voting, vote by mail in every state, and make election day a national holiday. it also faces a wall of republican opposition. >> this is about one party wanting the power to unilaterally rewrite the rule book of american elections. >> reporter: democratic activists in michigan are taking matters into their own hands. >> they're not securing the vote. they're suppressing the vote. >> reporter: reverend charles williams is going door to door. he's not leading a petition drive. >> i say, hell, no. >> reporter: he's trying to stop one. michigan republicans are gathering nearly 350,000 signatures to tighten state voter i.d. requirements. if enough people sign, williams expects the state's republican legislature will pass it into law. sounds like you're not waiting on washington to come in with the solution. >> we understand that nobody's coming to save us but us. >> reporter: the bills in
congress would make it more difficult for states to tighten voter i.d., but michigan republican lisa mclain said voters tell her tighter restrictions, even some that could make it harder to vote, are necessary. >> one of the top things they talk to me about is, "what are you doing? what are you doing to ensure that our elections are fair?" >> reporter: they stop you on the street about that. >> absolutely, sir, absolutely. >> reporter: reverend williams says he's not folding in his local battle. >> the fight must continue, and i think many people on the ground understand and are very clear that they will not stop until justice comes. >> reporter: debate tomorrow, possibly a vote tomorrow. democrats are trying to change hearts and minds in american communities before they come up short here in washington. norah. >> o'donnell: scott macfarlane, thank you. well, still ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news," scenes of widespread destruction. an island wiped out by tsunami waves 50 feet high.
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of service here in the nation's capital. my blood will go to three people. donations plummeted during the pandemic, but there are covid safety measures in place-- social distancing and a mask requirement for all. very safe and painless. doesn't hurt at all. it was my second donation, but katie ripley is going for the first time. katie, what do you think about this effort that you're now involved in to encourage more people to go out and give blood? >> i'm really excited about it. it really feels like a concrete good in a time when a lot of us feel powerless. >> o'donnell: katie is not just after she was hit by a car when she was six years old. >> what's motivating me is knowing that i can help other people the way that i was helped. and i'm so grateful for the person who donated blood so that i could be here today. >> o'donnell: so this is your way of giving back. >> absolutely.
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news." i'm norah o'donnell. right now at 7:00 -- san francisco's mayor wants to rewrite the rules on security cameras to cut down on crime, like this high-profile heist in union square. tonight, some of that stolen merchandise is off of the streets after a major bust. san jose police investigate a string of special grabs targeting atms. they warn there is trouble in the ranks tonight. >> that's 450 officers for 1 million people 7 days per week, 24 hours per day. >> the plan to address a serious staffing shortage, and why some officers say it will come at a cost. we are on the field with the 49ers as they prepare to take their playoff show on the road again. store make a critical decision
tomorrow in the fight to keep the is in oakland. we begin with a pair of vigils held on both coasts for the bay area born victim of a heinous crime in new york city. >> 40-year-old michelle go was killed over the weekend after being shoved in front of a subway train. she worked in manhattan, but was born in berkeley, and grew up in fremont. i am ryan yamamoto. and i am elizabeth cook. individual is underway right now and temperatures goes portsmouth square. >> katie nielsen is there. >> reporter: more than 100 people are gathered here at portsmouth square in san francisco for a candlelight vigil to remember the life of michelle go . both those who knew her well, and those who didn't know her at all. >> i cannot believe that something like this would happen to someone we knew. you hear the stories. it is terrible. >>