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Erin Burnett Outfront

Race for Survivors as 99 Unaccounted for in Condo Collapse; Surveillance Video Shows Moments Building "Literally Pancaked"; Desperate Search as 99 unaccounted for in Condo Collapse; Negotiators Reach Agreement on Framework on Police Reform Hours After Biden Hails Bipartisan Deal on Infrastructure; COVID Surge Hits Missouri, Officials Blame Delta Variant. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 24, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We'll see what happens down the road. Brian Todd, thanks for that report. Brian Todd helping us appreciate this story.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a desperate search for survivors of the Florida condo collapse. About a hundred people are still unaccounted for as I speak. I'm going to speak to a man whose mother and grandmother are missing tonight.

Plus, breaking news, two major breakthroughs tonight for President Biden: a bipartisan deal on infrastructure and, this just in, a preliminary agreement on the police reform bill.

And the Delta variant spreading in every state tonight. We're live in Missouri where one city's COVID hospitalizations have more than tripled in the past few weeks. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

The breaking news, it is a race against time this hour. Rescuers in Florida desperately searching for nearly 100 people still unaccounted for after a condo high-rise just collapsed this morning. New video that we just got moments ago here shows a frantic effort underway by rescuers. This video that you see, this is in the flooded basement of that building. The building just collapsed. You see those collapse marks. And in that basement, people still desperately searching in Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: In there risking their lives to try to save others, because

the situation is growing more dire by the moment. Ninety-nine people are unaccounted for at this hour. That's a number that's been going up throughout the day as more people have realized a loved one could be inside. Only one person is confirmed dead. No survivors, though, have been found since the collapse happened 17 hours ago.

Surveillance video shows that horrifying moment that the building came crashing down early this morning as dawn was coming. Local officials say the 12 floors of the building literally pancaked and you can see it from that surveillance video. Obviously, about that full-length football field away. They still have no idea how such a thing happened.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): I just had a chance to view the site up close and, I mean, the humanity that you see, the daily lives, the evidence of just people living their daily lives and that everything, everything evaporated in an instant. It's enormously devastating.


BURNETT: Rescuers have been able to save 37 people including a 10- year-old boy. The boy you see here pulled out of the rubble. The man who first found that boy describing the moment when he heard the child yelling out for help.


NICOLAS BALBOA, HELPED RESCUE PEOPLE FROM PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: He was just screaming don't leave me, don't leave me, don't leave me. And so we wanted to stay with him and make sure that we got fire and police over there, so I was able to signal a police officer using the flashlight of my phone. They got up to him. He got a perspective and then he got fire over there to just start digging them out.


BURNETT: No word yet on the boy's family. But there are so many families holding out hope that their loved ones could still be okay. I'm going to speak to a man in just a moment who is looking for his mother and grandmother. But first I want to go to Surfside, Florida and Rosa Flores who is there.

So, Rosa, we just showed that video just in, they're in the basement. They're trying to drill everything they desperately can do to try to find people who may be alive. Are they still hopeful there are survivors?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, they are. Right now, the focus is the search and rescue mission. Those moments that you just described where firefighters are shoring up that building to go inside looking for signs of life. At this hour, according to local authorities, one person has died, 102 people have been accounted for and firefighters in the meantime are on a mission to find 99 others.


FLORES (voice-over): These images appear to show the moment that a 12- storey high-rise partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida Thursday morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My nephew was here with a wife and three small children, two, six and nine. In our elusive hope, I'm just asking God because they're in the affected area.


FLORES (voice-over): A massive search and rescue operation now underway for survivors among the rubble of Champlain Towers South.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just need you guys to expedite the resources that I need over here, at least 10 rescues with backboards and stretchers.


FLORES (voice-over): At least one person is dead and 10 injured, official say 99 people are still unaccounted for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rescuers are hearing sound from the rubble. It's kind of hit or miss. You get into a zone where you're so passionate, and so focused, and just determined to make sure you're doing everything possible to save a life in an event like this.


FLORES (voice-over): This 10-year-old was lucky to get out alive. This man spotted the boy between the rubble and alerted rescuers.


BALBOA: I saw an arm sticking out of the wreckage and he was screaming, can you see me.


FLORES (voice-over): Another resident also narrowly escaped.


BARRY COHEN, RESIDENT OF PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: I looked down the hallway and it's a very long hallway, probably a hundred yards, 75 yards and there was nothing there. It was just a pile of dust and rubble.


FLORES (voice-over): While the cause of the collapse remains unclear, work had been taking place on the roof.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was work on the building being done to meet the 40-year standard, but it's not to say what the cause is.


FLORES (voice-over): And the nature of the collapse, complicating rescue efforts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is the building has literally pancaked. It has gone down. And I mean, there's just feet in between stories where there were 10 feet.


FLORES (voice-over): A nearby 50 unit hotel also evacuated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The alarms went off. It just got louder and everybody started to panic and we grabbed children and started running out the door.


FLORES (voice-over): For now, the focus remains on the rescue effort and providing survivors with the support they so desperately need.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors and in the State of Florida we're offering any assistance that we can.


FLORES (on camera): Now according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighters have not been able to hear voices in the rubble as they're searching, but they have been hearing bangs. That of course is signs of life. Erin, no word yet on what caused this collapse. But at some point, the Miami-Dade Police Department will be taking over to figure out what exactly went horribly wrong, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Rosa.

I'm joined now by Pablo Rodriguez. His mother lives in the building. His grandmother had been staying with her and they both are missing tonight. Pablo, first of all, I'm so sorry for what you're going through, how to even grasp the reality of what's happening. I know they're desperately searching. They're doing everything they can to find survivors. What is the latest you're hearing about the efforts to find your mother and your grandmother?

PABLO RODRIGUEZ, HIS MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER ARE MISSING AFTER SURFSIDE BUILDING COLLAPSE: To be honest, Erin, we haven't heard anything. We went to the community center this morning, gave her information, both of their informations and we haven't heard anything from anyone. We've called in, we still can't get any information. They were in the section that completely collapse in the first tower that collapsed, so we're not exactly very hopeful. But we're not getting any information right now.

BURNETT: I'm just so sorry. I know that there were sounds from the rubble earlier today and, look, some people might be injured or not able to speak but alive. I know you said it's hard to be hopeful given where they were in the building, but do you still have hope that they may be rescued alive?

RODRIGUEZ: You always hold out hope. Until we definitively know, we are trying to stay hopeful. But after seeing the video of the collapse, it's increasingly difficult because they were in that section that was pancaked in and in the first section that fell in and then the other building fell on top of it, so it's not easy to watch.

BURNETT: I know your mom told you yesterday that she woke up in the middle of the night and she heard noises and for her to actually mentioned this to you, obviously, in the context of everything being seemingly normal, right? She was worried enough to tell you about it. What did she say? What was she worried about?

RODRIGUEZ: She just told me that she had woken up around three, four in the morning and had heard like some creaking noises, just like sort of creaking noises. They were loud enough to wake her up, but that was it. And then I just thought it was nothing, she just didn't sleep well and that was it. So she didn't really pay any attention to it either. It was just like a comment that she made off hand like that's why she woke up and then she wasn't able to go back to sleep afterwards. But now in hindsight, you always wonder.


BURNETT: Yes. I mean, you're right, had nothing happened you wouldn't think anything of it, but you realize you don't hear that in the building like that, you shouldn't hear that that in a building like that. Pablo, we were showing some pictures of you, your family, your mom, your grandmother, you were in Washington and that's where you all just gotten back from. Your mother and grandmother were going to take your son to lunch today. You had a big birthday coming up for your grandmother in a few weeks. I mean, you were living life, finally, after everything ...

RODRIGUEZ: We were just living life.

BURNETT: ... yes, you were living life. RODRIGUEZ: Finally getting back to normal after the pandemic, we had

gone up to D.C. to visit my brother because he lives up there. Then we went over to Philadelphia for a couple of days. It was a great trip with my mom. We got back last Saturday and then today they were going to go pick him up to take him out to lunch. They came over every single weekend to spend the day with him, so it's my son's- it's going to be difficult.

BURNETT: I mean, are you even able to grapple with what has happened here? I mean, this is just something that no person would ever even comprehend or imagine happening.

RODRIGUEZ: It's hard to explain. It's waves of devastation with troughs of disbelief. It's just one second, you're overwhelmed. It's really difficult not to break down now. And then, another you get a semblance of normalcy because you just say, well, that's impossible. This doesn't happen. Buildings don't just collapse, it's not real. So it's been like that all day.

BURNETT: Pablo, I am so sorry. And I'm like everyone who holds out that hope. I understand you're being realistic about it, but that hope that you do get a miracle.

RODRIGUEZ: I appreciate that. We're praying for a miracle, but at the same time trying to be as realistic about it as possible. But yes, until we definitively know there is hope. It's just dwindling by the minute.

BURNETT: All right. Pablo, thank you very much.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: Jimmy Patronis is a State Fire Marshal who's been on the ground coordinating the emergency response. Jimmy, I don't know if you could hear Pablo. I mean, it's just the devastation that families are facing here and I know your teams are doing everything they can humanly do. They're in the basement now. They're drilling everything to try to save a life.

I mentioned to Pablo that you had heard some sounds from the rubble earlier today. At this point, are there any signs that there could be survivors still trapped?

JIMMY PATRONIS, FLORIDA STATE FIRE MARSHAL, FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: Well, the men and women of Task Force 1 in Miami-Dade Fire Rescue are boots on the ground. There was almost 50 different departments responded at 1:30 in the morning last night. They had been working nonstop. The task force that is working right now, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, they're a FEMA Task Force. They get deployed all over the world and what you'll see at seven o'clock at night will be the greatest effort we will have, over 80 men and women that will be working with other departments all at the same time to save lives. They won't stop till the mission is over.

BURNETT: I know you're using every device you can, sonar devices, among others to try to hear any activity under the ground. Can you tell me what else rescuers are doing right now?

PATRONIS: So the men and women that are working right now, they can only work in about 15 minutes shifts. The level of exhaustion is enormous as soon as they come out. They're carrying 80 pounds worth of gear. They're carrying protective equipment. They're carrying concrete saws. They (inaudible) to be manually because of the sheer threat of a building that is unstable, looming over them as they are crawling and tumbling under debris to save lives.

BURNETT: So what is the greatest challenge for you at this point? I mean, I understand what you're saying there, but even that, that 15 minutes in and of itself has to be incredibly difficult.

PATRONIS: So I would say the greatest challenge is the pace these men have to keep, these women have to keep, but they sign up for the job. They're amazing human beings. The best I've seen in humanity is what's happening right behind me. And the equipment that's been here on the ground, whether it'd be Valentine's Day, Christmas, New Year's, you name it, when you dial 911 these men and women show up and respond and that's what they've been doing since 1:30 this morning.

So the greatest challenge is to just continue to stay focused and the drive. And what you're going to see tomorrow morning is you're going to see the task force from Tampa, and St. Petersburg, and Clearwater are going to be here. You'll see the task force here from Jacksonville.


They're going to be coming to back up these guys, so they could have a little bit of a break, because they're not going to stop until every life that can be saved is safe.

BURNETT: Marshall Patronis, thank you so much.

PATRONIS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the question, what could cause a Florida high-rise built in 1981 to just collapse like a pancake in the nearly morning. Were there any warning signs?

And more breaking news we're following tonight, President Biden with major breakthroughs on infrastructure and moments ago breaking news on police reform.

Plus, the Delta variant fueling a tripling increase in COVID hospitalizations in Springfield, Missouri.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What percentage do you think it is that people you have now who are unvaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the hospital it's nearly a hundred percent of the people hospitalized with COVID and pneumonia are unvaccinated.



BURNETT: Breaking news, officials say they still do not know what caused that deadly collapse of a 12-storey residential building in Surfside, Florida. Right now we're getting a new video of what the building looks like right now. Literally as if it were sliced down in the middle. You can see, that would have been an HVAC and it's just, boom, right off the middle. Search for survivors is desperately still underway.


Right now, one person is confirmed dead, 99 people are unaccounted for tonight. After the search and rescue is over, officials are going to focus on the cause of the collapse and this is now of crucial import to this building, to buildings nearby, to people everywhere.

OUTFRONT now Atorod Azizinamini. He is the Director of Florida International University's Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability. He's a civil engineer who specializes in high-rise buildings, the corrosion of steel in concrete and seismic events in high-rises. In other words, Professor, this is what you know. Have you ever seen anything like this just happen before?

ATOROD AZIZINAMINI, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, DEPT. OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING CHAIR: Erin, this is a very rare kind of event that take place. You don't disregard that this kind of collapses don't take place just every day. And so I have seen some collapses, the collapse of the building in Malmo City (ph), that kind of comes to my mind. But in this case, I think there is a number of factors that could have contributed to this collapse and it's going to take some time. I know there's a natural tendency that people want to find out the exact cause of the collapse right away, but the way the structural engineer approach this type of problem is we collect all the data and we have we have the tools and the knowledge that we can simulate these scenarios in the computer and pinpoint exactly what caused the collapse.

BURNETT: I understand completely what you're saying. But, of course, you're looking at high-rise buildings all around this and the Mayor of Surfside just told CNN that there's a, what he called, a sister building a block away, but he says it's unimaginable that this would happen again. Of course, now it's not unimaginable to anybody. It may be to you from an engineering perspective and that's my question, how concerned are you that this could happen to another building nearby that may be in the same (inaudible) obviously on a bedrock there but sand?

AZIZINAMINI: Yes. Erin, that depends on the what the outcome of the investigation is. Let's say, for example, if the outcome of the investigation is that it's because of the settlement let's say, for example, that might have caused the foundation, then you need to take a look at the other similar building sitting in the same kind of foundation and so on. But my feeling is that usually a collapse like this doesn't happen

just because of one factor. Usually several factors is combined and it's like a perfect storm. Every collapses that I have seen, it's not just one factor. There are several factors that take place. And in this particular case, I mean, the investigator, they're going to have to look at it from the design, from the construction, the foundation system and once all the data is collected, they're going to have to simulate this thing in the computer and pinpoint.

My own feeling is that the biggest lesson that we are going to get out of this collapse is that we are going to have to inspect certain high- rise building located in certain locations more frequently.


AZIZINAMINI: I think, in the case of the bridge structures, for example, because of the collapse that took place in 1967, Silver Spring bring in West Virginia, we inspect every bridge in the U.S. once every two years. We don't have to do that in the case of the buildings, but I think at least we need to do maybe some inspection, maybe some aspects of the building every maybe five years or so. I think that's going to be the biggest lesson that's going to come out of this collapse, but we have to wait.

I think the biggest thing, the biggest message that I think I can send is that there's a natural tendency to try to pinpoint what happened. We have to give it time to people who are investigating these things and do a good job trying to identify exactly what happened and then the next step is going to be what changes do we need to incorporate to our building code, the way we design the bridges, I mean the buildings, the way we construct them the way we inspect them, because the safety of the public is the number one issue for engineers. It's a number one issue.

BURNETT: As it should be and, of course, now people are afraid and it's understandable that they would be as this desperate search continues. Professor, I appreciate your time. Thank you tonight.


BURNETT: And next breaking news, well, infrastructure, what's happening in Washington and now police reform moving ahead. What does it mean for other issues that Biden said were crucial?

Plus, alarm and regrets over the rapid strain of the Delta COVID strain across the United States and its effects.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope people do think about getting the vaccination, that's your prerogative, but I wish I had done it to just avoid this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Surgeon General of the United States will be OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news on President Biden, breakthroughs tonight on two major priorities for him. Moments ago Congresswoman Karen Bass and senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott announcing they have 'reached agreement on a framework for bipartisan police reform'. This just hours after Biden announced the bipartisan Senate agreement on a sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden saying that the deal will not only create millions of jobs in the post pandemic economy, he says it also shows there is still hope for democracy.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Neither side got everything they want in this deal and that's what it means to compromise and it reflects something important, it reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus. We reaffirm, once again, we are the United States of America.



BURNETT: Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju are covering the developments tonight.

Kaitlan, let me start with you. So, you know, for Biden these are huge breakthroughs on agenda items, infrastructure and police reform. Biden also delivering on one of his major campaign promises here.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, bipartisanship. So, I think the White House is still waiting to see what's happening with this framework on the police reform deal, but clearly they're feeling very good about the infrastructure agreement today because you saw President Biden come out officially indoors, and it's still not clear that it is going to pass both chambers of Congress, make it to his desk for him to sign.

We're -- the White House even acknowledge we're still good ways away from that, but just the idea that you saw President Biden come out with this bipartisan group and talk about this really does speak to what he said all along, he said he wanted to be able to get done if he did make it into the White House. And even today when he was speaking about this deal, not just the outlines of, it how they would pay for it, what they actually want to get done with it, he talked to the fact that there were Democrats who encouraged him to stop negotiating with Republicans.

And he said that he remain in those negotiations. His team would keep going and keep talking to them about it.


COLLINS: And, clearly, he believes that's a follow through what he said he believed could happen, and so now the question really is, how they get everybody else on board. What does this look like when they take it to the broader group on Capitol Hill.

BURNETT: So, Manu, on that front, what can you tell us about the breaking news here that just happened here about the bipartisan outline for police reform, which really just crossed in the paths in the few moments? Obviously, Karen Bass and Tim Scott leading of that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, different uptick in the language, a rosier language. I've been talking to all those negotiators repeatedly over the last several weeks. They've been saying various things, that they're getting close, talks have been going on and on for months. This is the first time they said they've reached an agreement on a framework.

Now, that also means though, that there are lots of details they had to sort out. They don't have a deal yet among these groups and negotiators, and they certainly don't have a bill that they've written, and they don't have anything that has been accepted by House Republicans, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats or House Democrats.

So, there is a long way to go. There's key sticking points that they need to resolve, how to bring civil lawsuits against police officers who are protected now by the qualified immunity standard. There are have been some discussions about compromise language on that. They have not resolved that issue.

Other issues as well remain on the table, but the qualified immunity issue remains the big sticking point. So, can they get there, Erin? A big question, but difference in tone among the negotiators today.

BURNETT: Which is obviously something all Americans want to celebrate, but, Manu, I want to understand, we talk about a bipartisan deal, for example, on infrastructure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes out with a warning about the bipartisan infrastructure deal. Here she is.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There ain't going to be an infrastructure deal unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate.


BURNETT: So, Manu, which he is saying here is infrastructure bill is bipartisan, but you won't get your bipartisan deal if you don't get everything you could get in and on our own without a single Republican vote. Maybe I'm not translating it completely accurately, that tell me how this boils down to bipartisanship then?

RAJU: Well, that's going to be the real challenge here, because some Republican senators who are open or supportive of that bipartisan deal may buck now because they don't want to get into the Democratic strategy to try to pass the larger reconciliation bill that would include a whole host of Biden priorities to expand the social safety net.

Just today, Lindsey Graham endorses this bipartisan deal warned that he would vote against it if the Democrats do carry forward with the strategy. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, came out hard against this strategy. He's not waiting on the deal itself, but he has said he's very pessimistic now because his concern is that it puts them in a very, very challenging position to endorse the strategy, because the reconciliation bill undoubtedly would propose raising taxes, including corporations and higher earners, which is a red line for Democrats.

But they have to do this, Erin, because they need to get their liberals on board behind the bipartisan deal, because they want this larger bill to go through, and then they also have to get people like Joe Manchin on board to support this larger Democratically approach. Today, he would not commit to that when I asked him about it, because he wants to see the deal details and concerned about the large price tag they are talking about here.

So, a long way to go. A lot hurdles to overcome for this to become law.


BURNETT: So, Kaitlan, bottom line, is Biden confident that this will actually happen? That this will go through?

COLLINS: He said today he did not want to say he was confident, because he said he doesn't know how Democrats are going to vote, but one line that he had was really telling and he said, yes, the Democratic Party is divided, but, he said they are also rational.

That means he does think at the end of the day, they are not going to vote against an infrastructure deal, because there is the squabbling and infighting among them about wood priorities and tactics should be, what's this should actually look like. So, he does seem to feel somewhat confident, he would not explicitly say it, we should be clear of with that was going to look like.

He made some news in his remarks as well saying he would not sign the bipartisan deal that he just negotiated if he did not also get that bigger reconciliation package, the liberal progressives a -- progressive liberals have been pushing for, talking about what they want to see on his desk.

So, that is significant in and of itself, saying he also agrees to them. He wants both of those packages on his desk. Of course that's something that Mitch McConnell is already criticizing him for.

BURNETT: Yeah, yeah. And this is going to be the real question, right? All of a sudden, your strategy, you lose your filibuster proof authority for the infrastructure bill.

Thank you both so much. And next, as the deadly delta COVID strain takes hold across the

United States, hospitalizations are spiking, and people who are vaccinated are still struggling with that decision.

Britney Spears wants her life back. So, what is her daily life like right now?

And what's happening right now at this moment. Live pictures in Surfside, Florida, at the devastation where rescue crews are searching for survivors, desperately, every moment after that condo collapsed.



BURNETT: Tonight, the highly transmissible coronavirus delta variant, first detected in India has now been found in a cluster of cases at a Nevada elementary school, including two with children. It comes as the variant is now spreading, known to be spreading in every state but one. I think it's pretty safe to say it's there too, but this is what we know technically.

And in Missouri, the state hardest hit so far by the Delta variant, hospitals are again overwhelmed by the virus.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Springfield, Missouri, coronavirus hospitalizations are up more than 225 percent since the beginning of June. The region's two major hospital systems are once more worried about being overwhelmed.

STEVE EDWARDS, CEO, COXHEALTH: It appears to be related to the Delta variant. We began to get news of the Delta variant about 5 weeks ago.

SAVIDGE: The Delta variant, the same variant blame for the catastrophic surge in COVID cases and deaths in India is quickly becoming more prominent in the U.S.

At a press conference this week, local health officials said it makes up 93 percent of COVID cases in Springfield and surrounding Greene County.

KENDRA FINDLEY, SPRINGFIELD-GREENE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Thirty- four cases were hospitalized due to COVID related illness in mid May. As of yesterday, we had 155 cases hospitalized due to COVID-related illness. That is the highest it has been since January.

SAVIDGE: The hospitals report many of their new patients are young, and until recently, healthy. Once more, medical experts say just about all those hospitalizations have something in common.

What percentage do you think it is that people you have now are unvaccinated? DR. ROBIN TROTMAN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, COXHEALTH: In the

hospital, its nearly 100 percent of the people hospitalized with COVID pneumonia are unvaccinated.

SAVIDGE: Health expert say the current vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, are all effective at reducing severity of illness and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant. But the county's vaccination rate is running behind the national rate of 45 percent.


SAVIDGE: You realize you are behind.

TOWNS: We do, yeah.

SAVIDGE: In other parts of the state, the numbers are far worse. More than 20 counties of Missouri report less than 20 percent of their populations fully vaccinated, counties that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2020.

TOWNS: There has been a lot of misinformation that has definitely played a tremendous role in politicizing this entire situation, and that information has definitely played a part in people's ears.

SAVIDGE: Springfield's acting health director, Katie Towns, says local health departments are doing just about anything to encourage more people to get vaccinated. Like this event at a local brewery offering free beer and a shot, as in vaccine.

Will Branch says it was pressure from his family and not the beer that finally got him over his hesitancy.

What was it that kept you from getting the vaccine?



BRANCH: I don't really have any other answer other than I was -- I was scared of a new thing.

SAVIDGE: Louie Michael (ph) wishes he got the vaccine.

LOUIE MICHAEL: I was short of breath for a little bit.

SAVIDGE: He and his wife both ended up at Mercy Hospital with serious COVID complications. He says not getting the vaccine was a huge mistake.

MICHAEL: I hope people do think about getting the vaccination. It is your prerogative, but I wish I had done it to avoid this.

SAVIDGE: Fortunately, Michael and his wife are doing much better thanks to expert care, but doctors and nurses at local hospitals say after an exhausting year and a half of battling COVID, this latest surge is having a significant impact on morale, saying it's harder to again risk their own health and well-being for someone who chose to not get vaccinated.

TROTMAN: I think when the staff is putting themselves at risk in the situations and they feel like other people aren't willing to take the vaccine despite the risk, that's a hard one for some people to swallow.

SAVIDGE: Medical experts say the delta variant can take off explode here as it appears to be doing. It can happen just about anywhere where there are low vaccination rates.

And in fact, they hope in states that have low vaccination rates are paying very close attention to all of these developments. And they also point out that this is potentially a much more contagious, and much more dangerous variant.


They know that they are not out of the woods. In fact, they are barely into the woods here. Things can get a whole lot worse -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Martin, thank you very much.

I want to bring in the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, now.

And, Dr. Murthy, I'm glad to talk to you again. I'm sorry it's under the circumstances, though.

The Delta variant is across this country in Colorado, they are admitting with everybody already knows, which is a lot more widespread than testing indicates at this point. You know, you saw what happened in the U.K. It is what it is. Math is math.

How worried are you about the numbers right now?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Erin, it is great to see you again as well.

And I am really worried about the Delta variant. This is the most transmissible variant that we've seen so far, likely more than double with the transmission potential of the version of COVID we're dealing with last year in the United States, and it also appears from the U.K. data to potentially be more dangerous as well in terms of severity of illness it causes.

The U.K. has been a cautionary tale for us, Erin. We've seen that the people who are predominantly getting sick there with the delta variant are young people. And it's now -- you know, 100 percent of the new COVID cases in the U.K., and rapidly growing here in the United States, exceeding 20 percent of our cases, doubling in fact in just two weeks.

So, I'm really worried for those who are unvaccinated.

On the other hand, Erin, if you are vaccinated, the news is good, because we found that the vaccines, you know, the mRNA vaccines, we know from studies are highly effective against the Delta variant. And we have good reason to believe that Johnson & Johnson will be very effective as well.

But if you are not vaccinated, you are even more at risk than you even were over the past year.

BURNETT: Yeah. And I'm glad, as a quick point, you mentioned Johnson and Johnson that we've been waiting, but you feel confident that Johnson & Johnson will show similar efficacy as Pfizer, and Moderna did?

MURTHY: Well, we don't know if there will be exactly the same number, it will be -- we feel pretty good that it will likely to be effective particularly at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death, the outcomes we're worried about the most.

The J&J vaccine, if you look at the other variants, particularly the one 135 variant, first located in South Africa, which was a really worrisome variant, the J&J vaccine actually has done quite well against that in terms of hospitalizations and death.

And the AstraZeneca vaccine which was tested, in fact, be very effective against the delta variant, in the U.K., against hospitalizations and death, it's almost like a cousin of the J&J vaccine in terms of the -- both using a similar platform. So, good reason to believe J&J should work.

BURNETT: Should work.

So, all right. So, you know, you heard our Martin Savidge in Missouri, right, and pretty every single person in that Missouri hospital was not vaccinated. They say nearly 100 percent. So, I don't know if there's any other kind of breakthrough cases there to raise, but I know that they're saying, essentially, 100 percent.

This is where the politics come in. The state counties with the lowest vaccination rates in that state voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, and now, there is, you know, a Republican governor taking his head on. Here he is.


GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): All you're doing is entering the death drawing. If I knew, for certain, that there was going to be 8 or 9 people die by next Tuesday, and I could be one of them if I don't take the vaccine, what in the world do you think I would do? I mean, I would run over top of somebody, because I don't want to take the chance when the wheel spins -- that it could come up Jim Justice.


BURNETT: Vivek, does that -- does that work?

You know, I spoke to the widow of -- a woman whose husband, he wore masks, she wore a mask in the interview. He wore masks in Florida. He was in that Manatee government office building, but he hadn't -- hadn't gotten the vaccine, had been hesitant, he died. And they presume it's from this new variant.

She was still unwilling to tell others that they should get the vaccine, you know, despite her grief, and her great loss.

You know, how do you reach people on the vaccine at this point?

MURTHY: Erin, it is such an important question. There are three primary reasons why people are unvaccinated right now. One has to do with access, some people are still having trouble getting time off from work and getting, you know, the vaccine, get the vaccine, and we've done a lot to make that easier.

Another reason is motivation. There are some people who believe that COVID is going away. They see cases coming down. They think maybe this is not important anymore. It absolutely is. Delta is an example.

But the third reason, Erin, is I think the most challenging one, which is misinformation. There is so much misinformation out there about the vaccine, coming through so many channels, a lot of it being spread on social media, and it's inducing a lot of fear among people. Two- thirds, Erin, of those who are unvaccinated, in polls, stated that they either believe the myths about COVID-19, or think they may be true. And that's such a large number.

So, what we've got do and what we've been doing, increasingly, over the last several months, is not only to speak directly to people, but really work with trusted messengers, local doctors and nurses, local faith leaders, and educators, to make sure we are reaching people with accurate information, so they can hopefully make a decision to get vaccinated, recognizing this is the single best way to safeguard their health, and protect their communities.


BURNETT: All right. Dr. Murthy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MURTHY: Of course. Great to see you, Erin. Take care.

BURNETT: All right. You, too.

And breaking news right now, I want to go back to our top story tonight: 99 people still unaccounted for, after the building collapsed near Miami Beach. No miracle that we know, of in the past few moments here, as we have been talking about COVID.

And I want to go to know to Kenneth Direktor. He's the lawyer who represents the association of residence inside of the building.

Kenneth, you know, in that capacity I know, obviously, you know a lot of people in the building. Can you tell me the concerns that residents have had? Has anyone been raising, prior to this, about the building?

KENNETH DIREKTOR, ATTORNEY FOR ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENTS WHERE CONDO COLLAPSED: There has never been -- and good evening and thank you for having me.

The association has operated the condominium for nearly 40 years, and has maintained the building, and as a matter of fact, has had extensive engineering studies, over the past several months, in preparation for a 40-year certification process. Nothing appeared either the engineers, or any of the residents, who would suggest anything like this was imminent. Nothing.


BURNETT: So -- yeah, go ahead.

DIREKTOR: I'm sorry, Erin. Go ahead, please.

BURNETT: Oh, no, no, I just wanted to follow up to that point, because I talked to a man, Paulo Rodriguez. His mother lives in the building, his grandmother was also in the building, staying with her, and they were the part of those first affected.

Obviously, they are missing. So, he said his mother, actually, just yesterday, told him she heard creaking noises in the middle of the night. The night before last, and a loud crash. It was so loud that it sort of -- it woke her up, and she was unable to go back to sleep.

She told him, in that context, sort of conversationally, but something that anybody living in a high-rise would say, being woken up by creeks, and a loud bang, that should be disturbing. And, certainly, now you hear this. Hindsight makes you think about what she said.

Had you heard anything like that, or does that shock you?

DIREKTOR: It doesn't shock me, because buildings creek, and make noise, and I had not heard anything like that. I will tell you, there are many, many buildings, throughout Florida, that have been through 40-year certifications, and there are many more that have done concrete work, and had small, or cracking concrete. And, I have been at this, for 40 years, and no matter how bad the concrete has gotten, nobody has ever saw anything like this occur, as a result of falling concrete.

BURNETT: So, what are you hearing from residents who survived the collapse about what they experienced?

DIREKTOR: Well, I'm going to go down to the property tomorrow, because today, obviously, was a day of just trying to get their arms around to process this. The primary concern, as I'm sure you can understand, for the next couple of days, is the humanitarian issue. To account for the people who are missing, and to do everything reasonably possible to not only save lives, but also, try to provide some care to people who are displaced from the building, because this was a building where a lot of people lived full-time.

BURNETT: Yeah, that's very clear from the stories we're hearing.

Kenneth, thank you for your time.

DIREKTOR: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: All right. And next, we're following the breaking news. We'll be right back.



BURNETT: Tonight, Britney Spears, speaking out moments ago for the first time since her bombshell testimony. The singer posting on Instagram tonight, saying, quote, I apologize for pretending like I've been okay for the past 2 years, I did it because of my pride, and I was embarrassed to share what happened to me.

Spears is asking to end the conservatorship that has controlled her $60 million estate for more than a decade. She says she wants her life back. So, what is life like for, her now?

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


BRITNEY SPEARS, POP STAR: If I wasn't under the restraint that I'm under right now, with all of the lawyers, and the doctors, and the people analyzing me every single day, and all of that stuff, if it wasn't there, I'd feel so liberated.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From big life decisions like having more children, to small daily ones, like being allowed to buy new kitchen cabinets, Britney Spears told the court, her daily life is completely controlled, by what she calls, her abusive conservatorship, leaving her very little freedom.

SPEARS: It's like, it's bad. I'm sad.

SERFATY: The pop star says, she has no say in the medicine she takes, describing one incident, when she didn't want to perform an additional show in Las Vegas, she was forced to go on lithium, describing how the therapist lined up by the conservatorship, out of nowhere, took me off of my normal meds that I've been on for 5 years. I felt drunk, she says. They wouldn't let me get my car to go anywhere for a month.

Spears says making objections about our life like this would often come with consequences, even for simple things.

Once, when she objected to a certain dance move for an upcoming show, she was told that she wasn't cooperating, or following guidelines and rehearsals. That particular incident, along with her refusal to do a Las Vegas show, speaker said, eventually led to her being forced into a mental health facility against her will.

I packed my bags, and went to that place. I worked seven days a week, no days off, which, in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking.

Making anyone work against their will, taking all of their positions away -- credit cards, cash, phone, passport.

Court records obtained by "The New York Times", showing the millionaire is limited to a $2,000 weekly allowance and she said she was made to perform when sick, once when she was running a temperature of over 100 degrees.

Spears says she is forced to do therapy twice a week, and meet with a psychiatrist, once a week, and is not allowed to have those sessions in her home, but in an office, where she feels exposed by paparazzi.

It's embarrassing and it's demoralizing. I deserve privacy when I go.

Spears' struggles were highlighted in "The New York Times" documentary framing Britney Spears, released in February.

SPEARS: When I tell them the way I feel, it's like to hear me, but don't listen. They hear what they want to hear. They're not really listening to what I'm telling them.


BURNETT: Sunlen, conservatorships are not new, obviously, among celebrities, but there have been a series it seems of high-profile ones recently.

SERFATY: There absolutely have been, Erin, and conservator ships are intended for people who aren't able to take care of themselves. We all know that actress Amanda Bynes, she was placed under conservatorship with her parents, in 2018, now is after her high profile struggle with alcohol, and drugs. As was radio icon, Casey Kasem, as his health worsened over the years, shortly before his death -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much for your time.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us.

Our breaking news coverage continues of that race against time in Surfside, Florida. Let's hand it off right now to "AC360" for that.