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Biden Updates Vaccination Drive After Missing July 4 Goal; Israel: Pfizer Vaccine Only 64 Percent Effective Against Delta Variant Infection, But Highly Effective Against Severe Illness; FBI Releases Horrific Videos From January 6 Riot At Capitol; Search Crews Battling Stormy Weather, High Winds In Surfside As Tropical Storm Threatens Florida; Thirty-Six Confirmed Dead In Condo Collapse, 109 Unaccounted For; White House Racing To Finalize Government-Wide Strategy On Ransomware Attacks & Deter Companies From Paying Ransoms. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 06, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Harrowing new scenes from the U.S. Capitol riot. The feds just released multiple videos six months after the insurrection amid growing fears and other attack could be on the horizon.
Also this hour, an urgent hurricane threat in Florida. We have a new storm forecast just in.
Plus, a briefing on the search and rescue operation in Surfside as Elsa closes in.
And President Biden pleads with unvaccinated Americans to get their COVID-19 shots, practically begging as the dangerous Delta variant sweeps the nation.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.
All that coming here. But let's begin with the breaking news. The new forecast just out, just out from the National Hurricane Center for Elsa. Our Meteorologist, Tom Sater, is tracking the storm for us.
Tom, Elsa is on the verge, I understand of reaching, what, hurricane strength?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's correct, Wolf, 5:00 pm advisory from the National Hurricane Center gives us sustained winds at 70 miles per hour. Category one hurricane is at 74.
Even though we know the environment is not conducive to rapid development, it's not going to take much, we're most likely going to have Elsa as a hurricane this evening. To give you an idea of how rare it is, in the month of July to have a hurricane make landfall on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the last one was 134 years ago. You got to go back to 1886 before they were even named.
Whether it's a strong tropical storm or a minimal category one, the conditions are still very dangerous and they remain the same. You're not even going to be able to tell the difference. However, hurricane aircraft earlier today flying into the system, even though we know it weakened over the landmass of Cuba, it was going to generate the warmer waters of the Florida straits.
Hurricane watch was quickly issued after the aircraft was flying around. Let's go ahead -- they went ahead and put out a hurricane warning. So, again, that's means conditions at hurricane strength are going to make its way up toward and scrape the whole coast making landfall tomorrow morning, maybe just before sunrise in the Big Bend. If there's a place to have landfall in Florida, it is this area, because it's mostly unpopulated.
Now, again, the surge was increased last night up to five feet. And I think we're going to have some big problems in the Tampa St. Pete, Clearwater area, area south toward Venice. If you look at the radar, it tells us a lot. It's still raining in Havana, these bands are going to be flying around this system. The core is offshore, where we have a lot of lightning, so it's still under building an environment with convective activity.
In Surfside, they had their problems today. We talked about those feeder bands, but now those are lifting northward. And I think they're in the clear for the rest of the evening. We still have a tornado watch until 11:00 p.m. We haven't had many, there was one just to the east of Fort Myers.
Forecast shows that scraping the entire coastline. Once the system gets parallel to you or just to the north that's when the surge will start to increase. So it's going to be a dangerous night along the entire coastline interior sections and then Gainesville.
Drops down to tropical depression, again, as we get more inland. And then, Wolf, as it gets off the coast of Norfolk it's a tropical storm once again. So, again, a rare landfall hurricane possible on the west coast, of course, of Florida. The last one was 134 years ago.
BLITZER: Yes. Wow. We're going to have a lot more on this coming up, including all the late breaking developments unfolding in Surfside, Florida in the aftermath of that condo collapse. We're standing by this hour, this hour for another news briefing from Surfside. We'll, of course, have live coverage here in the Situation Room.
Tom, we'll get back to you.
In the meantime, there's other important news we're following including over at the White House, President Biden making a new push to get more Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Delta variant is causing a new surge of cases among unvaccinated people all across the country. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us right now.
Phil, this comes after the President missed his goal, narrowly, but missed his goal of having 70 percent of Americans vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, that was more than just a symbolic miss. As you noted as the Delta variant rapidly emerges throughout the country, there are real world repercussions to the slowing vaccination rates, especially in certain specific areas of the country. The primary reason, you saw the President today come out and make clear the White House is going to double down on its vaccination push throughout the course of this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So please get vaccinated now.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, President Biden pleaded with millions of Americans to do the one thing proven to defeat COVID-19, get vaccinated.
BIDEN: If you're vaccinated, you're protected. But if you're unvaccinated, you're not.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Laying out a series of expanded initiatives designed to target areas with the lowest vaccination numbers. Biden's remarks which followed a briefing from his top COVID advisors, underscoring their urgency felt by the administration with the clock ticking.
BIDEN: Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Even in the wake of historic success in its vaccine rollout, the White House now finds itself in a race against the spread of the Delta variant.
BIDEN: Is more easily transmissible, potentially more dangerous. Seems to me that should cause everybody to think twice. And it should cause reconsideration, especially young people.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): After months of steady and in some cases, dramatic declines, the variant driving an increase in new cases. And no secret where transmission is highest, a series of states with the lowest vaccination rates.
ERIK FREDERICK CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, MERCY HOSPITAL SPRINGFIELD: It's almost, I think, that sense of shock a little bit like how did we ended up back here. A sense of fatigue and frustration knowing that there is a readily available solution to this problem and we still have so much reticence in the community to step in and join collectively in this fight to kind of get things back to normal.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Including Missouri, where the seven-day average for new cases has risen 165 percent compared to this time last month. As stories of new outbreaks start to trickle in, including from this church in Galveston, Texas, which is forced to shutter after more than 125 people tested positive after attending summer camp. The vast majority made up of teens eligible for the vaccination, yet likely unvaccinated.
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Obviously parents need to decide this and kids need to decide this for themselves. But we in the U.S. have determined that if you're over 12 it's safe to get vaccinated and smart.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Underscoring the rising concern inside the White House across age groups. All, as warnings about the Delta variant continue to grow.
The Israeli health ministry releasing preliminary data showing the Pfizer vaccine protected 64 percent of inoculated people from infection down from 95 percent before. But crucially, the vaccines still 93 percent effective at preventing severe illness in the same group. Underscoring a message Biden and his team are practically shouting out to the country right now.
BIDEN: You can do this, you can do this. Let's finish the job, finish it together.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MATTINGLY: And Wolf, gone are the mass vaccination efforts we've seen over the course of the last several months that Biden administration really zeroing in with state and local partners on a kind of grinded out effort, making sure they can go door to door, getting people the information they need if they're hesitant to get vaccinated.
Also making a big push to get vaccines to primary care physicians and pediatricians knowing that it's the trust with doctors that often is what changes people's minds when it comes to getting the vaccine, also an expansion of mobile units. And perhaps more importantly, they're looking to try and set up vaccine operations at workplaces.
Some individuals, knowing time is often a primary issue here, again, a series of initiatives the White House is expanding, trying to reach those who, at least up to this point, have not gotten the one thing that will ensure almost entirely that they won't get sick and certainly won't die of COVID-19, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a lifesaver, indeed.
All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you very, very much.
Let's get some more in all of this. Dr. Richard Besser is joining us, the former Acting Director of the CDC.
Dr. Besser, thanks for joining us.
These aren't necessarily new strategies coming in today from President Biden. So, is any of this going to convince the people who simply don't feel the need to get vaccinated to go out and get a shot? DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, hopefully, Wolf. Hopefully each of these efforts in communities that are currently at very low levels of vaccination will pay off in particular, if people are hearing from people they trust.
You know, I'm here in Princeton, New Jersey and 75 percent of people in my town are fully vaccinated. The next town over, Trenton, it's at 44 percent. And so, it's clear that we need to see much more taking place there.
The focus on the national number of 70 percent doesn't have a lot of meaning. What matters is what the rate is in your community in each neighborhood, and looking to address the challenges that they're currently continue to be in some neighborhoods for getting vaccinated.
BLITZER: There's a lot of focus, Dr. Besser, on primary care doctors, pediatricians providing the vaccine. Will that, do you believe, be enough to make a real dent especially before kids start heading back to school?
BESSER: Well, you know, I hope so, The Advisory Committee to the CDC recommends that children 12 and up get vaccinated. I'm a general pediatrician, and I know that my patients would rather hear from me than they would hear from a politician or a government leader.
One of the things, Wolf, that I think could help in a big way and I don't know when it's coming is for the FDA to finally approve some of these vaccines. Right now where they're being used still under emergency use authorization.
And what you hear from some people is that they want the FDA to finally decide, yes, these are fully approved, they're safe, they're effective and we can go forward that way.
BLITZER: There's some preliminary analysis, as you know, some preliminary data coming in from Israel that the Pfizer vaccine is losing effectiveness against the Delta variant. A dropped only 64 percent efficacy for all cases, including asymptomatic cases, but it's still 93 percent effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, God forbid, death. So, put this in perspective for us?
BESSER: Well, you know, Israel is a place that we have to pay a lot of attention to because they started vaccinating before we did. So, if there's going to be a problem, we'll likely see it there before we see it here in the United States.
I take this as actually encouraging information that these vaccines are still highly effective in terms of preventing hospitalizations, severe illness and death. That's the reason that we vaccinate against those. Well, it would be terrific if they present -- prevent all infection.
As long as we're not seeing a signal that they're losing effectiveness for hospitalizations and deaths, that can give us encouragement that if we can increase vaccination in this country, we're not going to see the increase in the severity, we're not going to see the increase in deaths that so many are worried about with a strain that spread so much easier.
BLITZER: And as you know, there's this more transmissible variant, Delta, that's gaining steam around the country. Just take a look at the map, all of this red and orange. Eleven states seeing a rise in COVID cases, some parts of the country may feel like the worst is over. But it certainly isn't, is it?
BESSER: It's not. And this could have an impact in terms of the recommendations for school in the fall. It's unlikely that we're going to have vaccine for younger children by the fall. And so, it may change whether communities decide to recommend masks for all children going to school.
What's going to need to take place is close attention to what's happening in each community, because communities that are seeing low levels may want to do something differently than a community that's seeing a rise and starting to see once again pressure on their healthcare system.
BLITZER: And let's not forget, we've been showing our viewers these numbers. The average 14-day daily number of cases here in the United States, COVID cases, still 12,070, 12,072 people in the country still getting COVID every day. And 236 Americans over the past 14 days on a daily basis have been dying from COVID.
So, it's not over with yet. Still be careful out there and get a shot, get vaccinated.
Dr. Besser, thank you very much for joining us.
BESSER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're standing by for tonight's news conference about the search effort over at the collapse Surfside condo. It's supposed to begin in just a few minutes. We'll have live coverage.
Also, six months after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI has just released horrific new videos of what happened. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Right now, we're standing by for this evening's news conference on the Florida condo collapse. It's scheduled for this hour. We'll have live coverage.
We're also following breaking news here in Washington, the FBI has just released truly horrific new videos from the riot at the U.S. Capitol exactly six months ago. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's up on Capitol Hill for us.
So, Brian, what do these new videos show?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some pretty horrific violence, Wolf. First we're going to show you a video released by the FBI of a rioter grabbing an officer's baton, some intense fighting at the foot of the Capitol. Take a look and you can hear some of the natural sound playing here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: We also have another piece of video, Wolf, showing a hand to hand combat. There is a baton being wielded in this next piece of video. It's not clear whether it's an officer wielding this baton or maybe a rioter, but this intense hand to hand combat outside the Capitol and again with some more natural sound to hear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out here (ph). This is our house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And this video among 11 new pieces of video just released by the FBI showing just the intensity of the violence on Capitol Hill that day. And this comes as we're getting new information tonight regarding security measures at the Capitol that still have not been implemented and problems still existing within the U.S. Capitol Police.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, exactly six months since that horrific day.
(on camera): Riot police just kind of came to the foot of the steps and moved more rioters off the steps.
(voice-over): The Justice Department releasing more new video from January 6, this time showing the moments that D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone's badge and radio were stolen from him moments when Fanone is being severely beaten. The video shows a rioters left hand grabbing the badge, then the right hand grabbing his radio by the antenna.
Other new video released today shows rioters harassing guards, chasing them down a hallway, threatening the guards before the rioters break into a Senate chamber. This comes as more than a dozen current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers, security officials, lawmakers and aides tell CNN that six months after the insurrection, not nearly enough has been done to address the security failures exposed by the Capitol attack. Sources tell CNN the U.S. Capitol Police Department still needs a cultural and operational overhaul and morale is really low.
Since January 6, the Capitol Hill police have lost an average of three officers a week, quote, "We're losing guys left and right," one officer told CNN.
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Part of the morale issue is the fact that they just didn't feel like they were prepared. And so, what leadership's going to have to do is really communicate with the rank and file and reassure him that, you know, there are changes being put in place. But people need to see the changes, they need to feel the changes.
TODD (voice-over): Meanwhile, threats against lawmakers have gone up this year. And over the past few weeks, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned of potential violence this summer, tied to false conspiracy theories that former President Trump will return to office in August.
RAMSEY: Some of those folks are dangerous. And so, you can't take it lightly. That's part of what the Capitol Police has to be able to do and not just to be able to shore up the building.
TODD (voice-over): The heavy security fencing around the Capitol has been gradually scaled back. Outer fencing was removed by the end of March. And there are reports the current fencing will be taken down in the coming days.
In the investigation, justice officials say more than 535 people have now been arrested in connection with breaching the Capitol, assaults and other charges. Significant conspiracy cases are being built against far right extremist groups, including the Oathkeepers.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: The Oathkeepers are people that the Justice Department says worked together to arrange for guns to be planted around Washington, D.C. primarily at hotels in a hotel in Virginia across the river. And that they move together, members of this group got together to come to the Capitol on January 6.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: And we also have this new statement just mailed to us by the U.S. Capitol Police. They just made a statement marking the anniversary, the six month anniversary of January 6, saying they're working around the clock to enhance their training, their intelligence capability and to enhance the security overall around the Capitol. They've also said quote, "We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured."
Wolf, a very somber anniversary indeed for the U.S. Capitol Police.
BLITZER: Six months through the day.
All right, Brian, thank you very much. Brian Todd up on Capitol Hill. Let's bring in former Obama Senior Advisor and CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod, along with CNN's Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, and former Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst.
Anthony, these new videos include so much horrific footage. How much can we learn about the insurrection from these new details?
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we can see the intensity of the effect -- is almost unbelievable that they were able to survive. And when you have those attacking you, trying to strip you of your equipment, especially your radio, that's a huge problem. With no radio, you're cut off from back, you're cut off from color, and you're injured.
BLITZER: You know, David, as these new videos make painfully clear, this was an assault on the seat of the American democracy. Why has Congress utterly failed, at least so far to address this glaring security crisis on its own doorstep?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Wolf, I think it's pretty clear because there's one party that has decided that they don't want to put a focus on what happened on January 6. You know, you hear a lot of talk about canceled culture while they Republicans in Congress would like to cancel this particular bit of history and move on. Because at the end of the day, they're worried that the finger will point at former President Trump and his role in this insurrection.
But it is highly irresponsible and in certain ways a self-inflicted wound because you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict future problems if you have massive retirements on the Capitol Police, a demoralized police force and no plan moving forward because you're stymied by politics. And it's really tragic. It's tragic for our democracy. And it has some tragic, you know, practical implications.
BLITZER: Certainly does, you know.
And, Jeff, you would think that everyone, especially members of Congress, would want to get the U.S. act together to make sure we learn from what happened to guarantee it won't happen again. Why can't they get their act together?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That only would have happened, Wolf if former President Donald Trump would have stayed out of this and we had not heard from him over the last five months. But that is not what happened, of course.
So, from the very beginning of this, the early hours of this happening, the dye was being cast for what we're seeing right now. As David was just saying, most Republican members have simply decided that it is not in their political self-interest to really examine this. We've seen it with the failure to form an independent commission, really not even a realization to be able to come together to give more funding to the Capitol Police.
It's one of the rare examples I can see. We've all spent so much time on Capitol Hill, walking those hallways. The officers, you know, are there to protect Democrats and Republicans, but they've not been there for them. So these members have not been there for these officers.
It's really shocking to me when Officer Fanone and others have been trying to get meetings and other things. They simply have sided with the former president, not with these police officers.
BLITZER: Yes, shocking indeed.
You know, David, there's new concern, it's hard to believe, but yet there's new concern the Capitol could face yet another threat in August when these conspiracy theorists believe the former President Donald Trump will be reinstated. As long as the former president is spreading lies about the election, will that threat remain? How serious of a threat is it?
AXELROD: Look, I think given what we saw six months ago, you have to take these threats seriously. And I'm sure that the FBI and others and the Capitol Police are, you know, we live in an environment now where this big lie -- we saw a report today, a third of the Republican candidates for Congress have embraced the idea that the last election was fraudulent without any supporting evidence.
And yet, this idea flourishes even with a majority of Republican voters, because this is what they are hearing through the channels on which they get their information or what purports to be information. And it is it is really concerning.
So, yes, I think there needs to -- there should be real concern about this crazy conspiracy theory that somehow Trump will return in August by dint of what power I do not know. But that is out there, it is being repeated, and it should be taken seriously.
BLITZER: David Axelrod, thank you. Jeff Zeleny, Anthony Barksdale, thanks to you as well.
Much more in this coming up.
We're also standing by for a news conference, updating us on the search at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. Live coverage coming up.
And we're also tracking Elsa, a major storm threatening to disrupt those operations. All that coming up right here in the Situation Room.
BLITZER: Any minute now, officials will hold a news conference updating us on the search effort in the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. Let's go there. CNN's Rosa Flores is on the scene for us. Rosa, the search has expanded that I take it but Elsa, the storm is threatening to disrupt that, what's the latest?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, search and rescue teams have not gotten a break this afternoon. I can tell you that it's been pouring here on and off all afternoon. This, as we learn from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, that when wind gusts reach 45 miles an hour, the search is called off.
FLORES (voice-over): Tonight, there's renewed intensity at the side of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. Searchers now able to reach all of the rubble, with none of it off limits. As Tropical Storm Elsa barrels towards the Sunshine State, the outer bands pummeling search and rescue teams combing through the debris, forced to pause once overnight due to the weather.
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We now have our weather service embedded within our search and rescue teams to work closely to track for any changes that could impact the work to assure the safety of our first responders.
FLORES (voice-over): The storm inched to the west, but the National Weather Service warns Surfside may still see heavy rain, flash flooding and the possibility of isolated tornadoes.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The most impacts will occur overnight with this storm. It will make landfall along Florida West Coast tomorrow morning.
FLORES (voice-over): Nearly two weeks into the search and rescue efforts, hope is fading for one family.
This man traveled from Uruguay to say goodbye to his sister, adding photos of her to a growing memorial wall for the missing.
BERNARDO CAMOU, SISTER STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR: She's hearing me, she's hearing me. I know she's hearing me. My sister (INAUDIBLE). Miss Appleby, pray for me. She's already dead (ph). Pray for me and pray for all that love you. For all of us that love you.
FLORES (voice-over): 64-year-old Gabriela Camou Font is one of the more than 100 people still deemed unaccounted for.
(on-camera): Do you have hope that she's still alive?
CAMOU: Really no.
FLORES (voice-over): As a days and hours stretch on, the emotional toll becoming more difficult for local and international crews.
COL. (RES.) GOLAN VACH, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCE COMMANDER: The group, the team, your couple is holding you and when he sees that you are a little bit not with us, he hugs you.
FLORES (voice-over): Today, more federal resources arrived to help investigators gather and log evidence. CAVA: The LIDAR scanners are working so that we can better analyze the debris given the rough terrain of the pile. All this evidence will be critical to the NIST eventual fact finding report.
FLORES (voice-over): Despite the progress, the fire chief in charge says they have found no signs of life.
CHIEF ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DADE FIRE AND RESCUE: Key things (ph) we're looking for all throughout in regards to voice space, livable spaces, you know, we're not coming across that.
FLORES (voice-over): But teams are not giving up, not on the possible survivors and not on finding answers about what went so terribly wrong.
CAVA: The whole world wants to know what happened here. I look forward to learning the truth, as do we all and that will learn what happened, what could have been prevented, and how to make sure it never happens again.
FLORES: And Wolf, officials will grant reporters and photo journalists access to the site for the first time tonight. We will bring you those pictures live here on CNN. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Rosa, thank you very, very much. Rosa Flores on the scene for us as she has been for these many, many days.
Let's get some more in all of these, the former Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey is joining us, also former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. Dave, we're awaiting an update from officials. The briefing is about to begin. I may have to interrupt you guys once it begins. But clearly there are still major challenges underway right now. Is this a whole new phase of the search that now that rescuers can actually go ahead and access the full site?
DAVE DOWNEY, FORMER MIAMI-DADE FIRE CHIEF: Well, absolutely, I mean, that's what we've been trying to do since the beginning, but it was just too dangerous with the hanging debris and the unstable structure. So now that they can access the entire site, we're seeing a lot more productivity there, they're able to get in. And, you know, ultimate goal is bring closure to these families.
BLITZER: You know, Craig, how are these rescue crews prepared to deal with the challenges, and that's the last thing they really need, given the enormity of what they're doing that this storm is going to bring in the next few hours.
CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well as Dave tell you, these teams train a lot. They're also experienced, because I've deployed a lot. We solve similar situations in Haiti after the earthquake. Weather doesn't stop, the rescue teams have to go, that's why they have a safety officer. Part of that to keep an eye on things that could affect the
operations. They have the authority to inform the AMC (ph) commander when they need to shut down. So, you know, it's a it's a balance between continuing the operations, while you maintain safety of the team.
BLITZER: You know, Dave, when you listen to the tone of officials on the ground right now, is reality sinking in on the chances of any survivors being found?
DOWNEY: I think it is. I mean, as the days go on, obviously the chances diminish. Rescuers are still maintaining hope. But rescuers are working under the idea and the drive that they're going to bring closure to every one of these families, and they want to be able to do that. And they're going to continue to work around the clock. And until they've recovered every last victim they can.
BLITZER: You know, Craig, how concerned are you for the safety of residents in similar buildings in that area? There are a lot of buildings very, very similar.
FUGATE: Well, that's what the mayor's, you know, saying we need to find out what happened. The National Institute of Technology, NIST, was given the task by Congress to investigate these types of building collapses, similar to the National Transportation Safety Board. So, we got to find out what happened, and then find out if there are other structures that are in similar shape. And again, as the mayor said, prevent happening again.
BLITZER: Yes, we got to learn exactly what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again. So painful for everyone have died down there. How important, Dave, is it to get these families closure and mourning their loved ones and finding out why this building came down?
DOWNEY: Well, that's our number one drive. I mean, the number one thing is to bring closure. That's why these rescuers are working and the conditions are working in. It has been hot, it's been humid. Now we're dealing with the rain.
And as Craig has said, you know, they work through those problems in order to keep going around the clock. And, you know, when it's all said and done, hopefully, we'll have some ideas of what caused this building to come down. In my 30 years in search and rescue, I've never seen a building collapse like this.
BLITZER: Yes. And when you say 30 years search and rescue, you've never seen something like this. There have been other buildings that have gone down, but as a result of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, stuff like that, but this is something pretty, pretty unusual, right?
DOWNEY: Absolutely. I mean, it -- the collapse afterwards, I certainly am familiar with, but the reason that it came down, I think there's many of us, myself included, that are very interested in knowing why.
BLITZER: Yes, all of us want to know why. All right, Dave, thank you. Craig, thanks to you as well. We're continuing to monitor the news conference that's about to begin down there. The latest information on the condo collapse.
Looks like they're getting ready to introduce the mayor of Miami-Dade. There'll be others who will be speaking as well. We'll continue to monitor this and see once it begins formally and we'll, of course, have live coverage. So stand by, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Here's Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
CAVA: -- also some gusts of wind, it did go above 30 miles per hour with the tropical storm. And this is to protect the safety of our first responders. They resumed as soon as it was safe to do so. And we have a meteorologist imbedded in the team right with them on the mound to provide any weather updates to make sure that they are safe.
And throughout the team's ongoing hard work today despite the rain and the other adverse conditions, we have recovered four additional victims. The number of confirmed yes is now 36 with 29 of those identified. 191 are not -- excuse me -- 191 are accounted for and now 109 reports of people who are potentially unaccounted for which we are continuing to review.
As I said earlier, this list includes many reports that were received with partial or incomplete information, sometimes only a name. Sometimes no other identifying information and not even a return phone number for us to follow up with the person who was reporting. Our detectives are working as hard as they can to follow up and verify each and every report so we can bring you and the world the most accurate information.
I ask all of all of you around the world who are continuing to follow this story to please keep these victims and these families in your hearts and prayers.
Our Family Assistance Center is continuing to provide a great array of resources. 25 or six agencies that are serving families are on site. They are helping people through this terrible tragedy. And they are helping them to rebuild their lives and to getting back on their feet. And so I'm very, very proud to tell you that they have now served 178 families at the Family Assistance Center.
Today we served 31 families, 24 agencies were on site. They provide mental health, grief counseling, financial and housing assistance and many other resources. FEMA is one of those on site. And it's providing direct individual assistance, rental assistance for surviving families who want to stay in this area. And especially for those who have children in area schools. And we've been assured by the superintendent that they'll be able to continue to attend the schools, even if they move out of the immediate area. The SBA, the Small Business Administration is providing disaster relief. And you'll hear a little bit more from their representative about the work that they've been doing. And we're also working with the state to streamline the process of submitting insurance claims very important.
And through the extraordinary generosity of people all across the country and world, we've received tremendous amount of funding to help these families, and through the support Surfside fund $2,500 to $5,000 for larger families. It has been distributed for immediate assistance and unmet needs. And again, we're encouraging those families who have not yet gone to the Family Assistance Center to do so to take advantage of these very important resources.
Also, I want to say that our Miami-Dade County government departments have been on the scene. They've stepped up in this unique moment, and they've gone above and beyond. So, of course, we know the men and women of our first class Fire Rescue Team truly the best in the world. They ran into the rubble of the collapse building and they haven't stopped since pulling people out. And, of course, our police department who's stood by their side, hand in glove, getting this job done.
Our Community Action and Human Services Department is running the Family Assistance Center with enormous care and compassion. And we also have our water and sewer department, our transportation and public works department.
Our libraries are coming on board and even our elections department is helping out in this effort. They've been driving shuttle buses to assist the Red Cross and the survivors to go to the various places they need to go and they're helping people to redo their voter registration if they've lost their voter registration cards.
So I want to stress again how very grateful we are for all of this help from the state and from the federal government, from FEMA who's been on site with us here from the very beginning of this disaster. And I want to borrow a phrase from Gracia Szczech who is the Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IV who has been embedded in our Incident Command. Gracia? That's Gracia. OK.
Gracia has a line that she tells us regularly that we are truly one team, one mission and one family united in the service to serve side families. Thank you, Gracia.
Earlier this afternoon, President Biden called me to check in on our community and to ensure that federal government is continuing to do everything that it can to provide all the support that we need for the families and survivors here in Surfside. And he continues to send his prayers and love to all of the families and all of the first responders and we are so thankful for his ongoing leadership and support.
Last but not least, to you, the members of the media, who've been working so hard to cover the story and to tell the world what is happening here in Surfside since day one, our team has worked hard to facilitate a closer site visit for you this afternoon. So anyone who is interested should meet here at 6:30 p.m., and we will facilitate your visit to the site.
God bless the families and our first responders.
(Speaking Foreign Language)
BLITZER: All right, so there you have the Mayor. She's reporting new numbers, very sad numbers, four more remains recovered that brings the confirmed death toll to 36, 109 people remain unaccounted for. She also thanked President Biden for phoning her today, offering whatever help the federal government can bring.
Rosa Flores is on the scene for us. Rosa, I take it you're going to be among the journalists who are going to be walking over to the site together with the Mayor and others. This will be the first time they're really letting a journalist in that close, is that right?
FLORES: That's absolutely right, Wolf. And as the Mayor mentioned, that happens at about 6:30. I can tell you that based on what we had learned from officials, they were expecting for the death toll to increase as they got more access to the site after the demolition of the partial standing building. And Wolf, as you mentioned, the death toll now 36, 109 people remain unaccounted for. The Mayor, they're listing some of the services that are being provided to the families, including mental health.
BLITZER: You know, Rosa, you've been there for days now, and I was there last week, you were there. It's taking an emotional toll on everyone, including journalists, that it's going to be difficult, I'm sure for many of the journalists, including yourself to actually see that rubble, but give us your thoughts.
FLORES: You know, I actually called one of the family members that I met today who is -- who has a sister who's missing. There was in the piece that was in your show, Wolf. I called him and asked him about journalists going to this site just to ask for advice to make sure that we're respectful because you and I know that this has been an open air grave now for days as search and rescue teams have been sifting through that rubble, trying to find survivors. But the death toll continues to rise.
And the one thing that this family member told me, he said, from where they're able to see from the street, from the public areas, they only see the pile of rubble. They want our cameras to show them that search and rescue teams are working, that they're doing everything they can to find their loved ones.
BLITZER: All right, Rosa --
BLITZER: All right, well, good luck over there. We'll stay in close touch. We will speak to you after you return. Rosa Flores doing an amazing job for us down there in Surfside.
We're going to get back to that story much more on that coming up. But there's other important news unfolding right now. The Biden administration is racing to cope with another ransomware attack impacting hundreds of U.S. businesses. Here's what President Biden had to say this afternoon when reporters asked them about the reported $70 million ransomware attack on a software vendor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I received an update from a national security team this morning. It appears to have caused minimal damage to U.S. businesses, but we're still gathering information to the full extent of the attack. And I'm going to have more to say about this in the next several days. We're getting more detailed information. But that's what I can tell you now. And I feel good about our ability to then (ph) respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our White House Reporter Natasha Bertrand is here with me in The Situation Room. So Natasha, I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this. What does the Biden administration plan on doing with this latest attack?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. So what we're told is that the administration, the White House has been working around the clock to finalize the pieces of its broader strategy for dealing with ransomware attacks, because as we've seen from this past weekend, they are not letting up. And they are increasing in pace, and they're increasing in severity.
And so, what we're told is that their strategy here is really going to focus on figuring out how to deter companies from paying the ransom is because that is one of the biggest things that is fueling these ransomware attacks, of course, is that these attackers think that they're going to get paid, and in many instances, they are correct.
So figuring out how to deter the companies from paying these ransoms, figuring out how to make the companies report that they have been attacked to the federal government so that the government can then step in and actually help them respond to these attacks. That is another thing that they're looking at.
Also working with global allies, working with foreign partners in trying to kind of rein in these attackers and trying to figure out how to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges outside of the United States that are, of course, the way that these attackers are getting their money through these cryptocurrencies, through Bitcoin. And these companies are not always reporting those suspicious transactions to the government. And so this is all kind of wrapping into their strategy now that they're racing to complete because right now, a lot of companies in the country don't really know what to do when they are faced with a major debilitating ransomware attack.
BLITZER: You and I were in Geneva during the Biden-Putin summit. And President Biden said if it's Russia behind it, they will pay another huge, huge price. We shall see what happens. Natasha, thank you very, very much for that report.
There's more breaking news coming into The Situation Room, showing new video of the January 6th, insurrection, just released by the FBI as we learn more about ongoing security problems at the U.S. Capitol.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, the Capitol insurrection scene from dramatic new angles six months after the attack. We're breaking down videos just released, just released by the FBI along with new information on security failures that haven't been fixed. Also breaking, four more bodies pulled from the ruins of the condo collapse in Surfside as Florida's under a state of emergency right now with Tropical Storm Elsa nearing hurricane strength.
And President Biden warns unvaccinated Americans are putting friends and loved ones in danger as the Delta variant spreads aggressively. Will this updated strategy for getting shots at arms work?