At least 97 people died in Surfside collapse. The search for bodies just ended: 5 Things podcast

·9 min read
The people lost in the Surfside condo collapse represented rich and varied backgrounds.

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: At least 97 people died in Surfside condo collapse. Now, the search for bodies has ended. We're also bringing you news from Tokyo, where the U.S. still hasn't scored any medals in the Summer Olympics. Plus, politics producer Hannah Gaber sits down with Congressional reporter Savannah Berhmann to discuss a September deadline for student loan forgiveness, wildfires burn out of control in the West and common respiratory viruses are making a comeback.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I'm Taylor Wilson. This is 5 Things you need to know, Saturday, the 24th of July 2021. Today, one month since the Surfside condo collapsed. Plus, the Olympics are full steam ahead and more.

Here are some of the top headlines.

  1. Thousands of people took to the streets across Australia on Saturday to protest new lockdown restrictions during the latest surge in COVID 19 cases there. Arrests were made as crowds broke through barriers and threw objects at police in Sydney.

  2. New York state has banned child marriage. It becomes the sixth state to do so, raising the marriage age of consent to 18. Governor Andrew Cuomo previously signed legislation in 2017, raising the age from 14 to 18. But that legislation still allowed 17 year olds to be married with parental and judicial consent.

  3. The Cleveland major league baseball team has a new name. They'll will be known as The Guardians after this season. They were The Indians since 1915.

Taylor Wilson:

It's been one month since a condo building collapsed in the middle of the night in Surfside, Florida. The disaster wiped away an entire vertical neighborhood of people. 97 people died and one remaining missing person has still not been identified. The search for bodies officially came to an end on Friday, as rescue workers were recognized at a ceremony. No survivors were found after the immediate hours following the collapse. Officials also confirmed that there are no more bodies in the rubble, but investigators are still working their way through debris that is now housed in separate locations. Miami-Dade Fire chief, Alan Cominsky recognized the work of his firefighters on Friday. They went through 12-hour shifts over the past four weeks at a dangerous site where fires broke out. Rescue workers occasionally fell off unstable debris. Cominsky said, "It's obviously devastating. It's obviously a difficult situation across the board. I couldn't be prouder of the men and women that represent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Scott Dean is the leader of one of the task forces focused on search rescue and recovery. He said workers wanted to bring closure to family members.

Scott Dean:

Providing closure to families was the ultimate test of everybody here. I think we did our best to do that and to make sure that everybody knew that we were in it 1000% to make sure that they had the closure they needed.

Taylor Wilson:

The end to the search comes days after a Florida judge this week said that victims and families of the collapse would receive $150 million to start. That includes insurance money and the sale of the condo building site. Several lawsuits are also ongoing and will be brought together into a class action suit. Authorities still have not figured out the exact cause of the collapse, but investigators are looking through a number of potential structural damages to the building in recent years. A judge heard arguments this week about what to do with the site of the building going forward. Some unit owners have advocated for a memorial, others want the site to be rebuilt, and others prefer a hybrid of the two options. For more on the nearly 100 people lost in the devastating tragedy, head to USAtoday.com for a list of names. The Tokyo Olympics have officially begun. Some competition began earlier in the week, but everything is now moving into full swing after Friday's opening ceremony. Day two of the games began Friday night into Saturday morning U.S. Time, and featured 23 different sports.

Taylor Wilson:

China won the first medal of the Olympics, as Yang Qian won the women's 10 meter air rifle competition. The country now has three medals overall at these young games, including two goals while the U.S. has not yet medaled. World number one American Archer, Brady Ellison and Mackenzie Brown were upset in the first round of their mixed team debut. Ellison is a four time Olympian and three time medalist who still has a shot at two more metals this summer. He's as motivated as ever to do so, but as Ellison said this week, he's a new dad and that's put everything into perspective.

Brady Ellison:

Ty and my wife had a connection with him as he's growing inside of her. She could feel him and do all this stuff, so they're already connected. I'm like, "I love you, but I haven't seen you yet and I feel you." As soon as he popped out and I got to hold him, my world change. Mentally... I don't know if the hormones or what happened, but mentally, my life changed. Everything that I thought important in life is not important. Everything's for that little guy and making sure that he has a future and everything that he needs and making sure that I work hard to do everything I can so he can live the best life that he wants to live. I don't know. My perspective on everything just changed. I still want to win a gold, but I'm not going to cry about it if I don't. I guess that doesn't define me anymore. No one ever talks about that.

Brady Ellison:

As a parent, a lot of things get talked about. I never heard that in an instant, your whole entire mindset can change. I think it's awesome. I think that both my wife and I are way better people now just meeting him that first day.

Taylor Wilson:

There have been some early successes for team USA. The women's eight and men's four boats made it to the final in rowing. The U.S. women's water polo teams smacked hosts Japan 25 to four in the pool. For all things Olympic, stay with our live Olympic updates page on USAtoday.com. September 30th is quickly approaching. That date could be very significant for millions of Americans around the country. It's scheduled to mark the end of nearly a year and a half of student loan relief. That is unless the government extends loan forgiveness or tackles the issue more directly. Senior producer for politics, Hannah Gaber sat down with congressional reporter, Savannah Berman to break it down.

Savannah Berman:

Many of us who have student loans are aware there is a deadline coming in September and you have a story to help us understand what is the administration doing, if anything at all, about student loans? We have not heard much.

Hannah Gaber:

Absolutely. Yes. This deadline that you're talking about is a deadline that came about from COVID. That's been extended a few times where borrowers do not have to pay on their student loans and interest is not building. It's saved billions of dollars for people, but Congress and The White House have been grappling over what to do long-term on the issue. Biden campaigned on wanting to forgive up to $10,000, but doesn't know if he can do it via executive order. Democrats in Congress did not include student loan forgiveness within their recent budget reconciliation bill framework when they could have done so, and that would have been the way to get through Congress because Republicans don't want widespread relief. But by not putting that within their reconciliation bill, they're throwing the ball in Biden's court completely, saying he has the power to forgive student loans but you don't have to do it in Congress. It's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out within the administration.

Savannah Berman:

What's interesting is that the deferment of payment being due and of interest was initiated by a Trump executive order. Why does Biden think he might not have the power?

Hannah Gaber:

He doesn't think he has the power beyond the scope of what's been provided from COVID. He doesn't think he has the power, especially when it comes to private loans. That's what officials within the Justice and Education Department are deliberating on. The Education Department, under president Donald Trump, former secretary of education, Betsy DeVos argued that she didn't believe the president had the ability to forgive millions and millions of dollars in private loans. That's the issue department officials, The White House, and Congress are grappling with right now. Well, we'll read your story for more and we will be watching for that deadline. Thank you, Savannah.

Savannah Berman:

Thank you

Taylor Wilson:

To read Savannah's full story, search loan forgiveness on USAtoday.com. Wildfires continue to burn through the American West this weekend. The Dixie fire outside Sacramento reached mega fire status on Thursday when it passed 100,000 acres and another blaze, the Sugar Fire reached that designation days ago. Elsewhere, the nation's largest, the Bootleg fire has destroyed an area half the size of Rhode Island, but Cruz and Oregon were making some progress against it. Communities on both sides of the California and Nevada State Line have also been evacuated as the Tamarack Fire burns out of control. Common respiratory viruses are making a comeback. They include influenza viruses, common human Coronaviruses, Rhinoviruses, and more. They circulated at historically low levels in 2020, likely because of COVID-19 prevention measures like mask wearing and social distancing. But the CDC says that as those measures relax, some viruses are circulating at increased levels at an unusual time of the year.

Taylor Wilson:

The CDC wrote, "Reduced circulation of influenza viruses during the past year might affect the severity of the upcoming influenza season, given the prolonged absence of ongoing natural exposure to influenza viruses. Lower levels of population immunity, especially among younger children could portend more widespread disease and a potentially more severe epidemic when influenza virus circulation resumes." We've got a guide up on USAtoday.com for how to tell the difference between COVID and the common cold. Search, got the sniffles? For more. You can find 5 Things wherever you get your audio, including on Apple Podcasts. Thanks as always to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. Claire's back with the Sunday edition right here on this feed. 5 Things is part of the USA Today Network.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Search for bodies at Florida condo collapse ends one month later

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