On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: At the Surfside condo collapse site, the death toll has risen to 54. Plus, a new study finds that a recent heat wave would have been impossible without climate change, the U.S. considers its response after Haiti’s President is assassinated, Tropical Storm Elsa continues moving across the Southeast and the Scripps National Spelling Bee is back.
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.
Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson, and this is 5 Things You need to know Thursday, the 8th of July, 2021. Today, shifting from rescue to recovery in Surfside. Plus, how climate change could affect heat waves now, and in the future, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines.
- Four million people have now died from COVID-19. The pandemic continues to slam under-vaccinated countries in Africa and Latin America. And there are worries of new surges even in places with higher vaccination coverage as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.
- Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended in Washington, DC. The temporary move comes pending the outcome of his disciplinary proceedings in New York, where President Donald Trump’s personal attorney was barred from practicing law over claims he made about the last presidential election.
- And the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions again. The Bolt’s won their second title in a row Wednesday night, beating the Montreal Canadians one to nothing to win the series in five games.
Search efforts at the Florida condo collapse site have shifted from rescue to recovery. The change effectively ends any hope of finding survivors as we’ve reached two weeks since the devastating collapse on June 24th. The amount of bodies found has risen to 54 after another 18 were found on Wednesday. That number matches the total found after the entire first week of searches and 86 people remain unaccounted for, meaning the death toll is expected to rise. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday that she hopes the shift to recovery brings closure to family members.
Mayor Danielle Levine Cava:
At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission. So today is about beginning the transition to recovery so that we can help to bring closure to the families who’ve been suffering and waiting for news. Nothing we can do can bring back those we’ve lost, but we can, and we will do everything in our power possible to identify all of the victims and to offer closure to the families in this time of unimaginable grief.
Mourners and community members continue to gather at the memorial wall near the Champlain Tower South collapse in Surfside, Florida. This was the scene on Wednesday night. (People singing)
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families that after searching all areas of debris, it will now be next to impossible to find people alive. Emergency teams will remove rescue dogs and sound devices they have been using to listen for possible sounds of life, but they’ll continue to search through the rubble for remaining bodies. Mayor Levine Cava used Wednesday to praise rescue workers for their dangerous efforts, including braving fire, weather conditions and the trauma of the site itself. Experts say that the decision to shift from a rescue to recovery operation is complicated and may involve hundreds of factors. Chief among them: weighing the safety of rescuers against the possibility of finding survivors.
We’re learning more about the devastating heat wave in the American and Canadian West last week. Parts of both countries saw new all time temperature records, including the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada, 121.3 degrees in Lytton, British Columbia. That village then was largely destroyed by a wildfire the next day. And Portland, Oregon broke its all time record for 3 days in a row topping out at 116 degrees. Hundreds of people died linked to the heat. And according to a study out Wednesday, the heat wave would have been virtually impossible without climate change. The study comes from World Weather Attribution, an international collaboration that analyzes the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events like storms, heat waves, cold spells, and droughts. It found that global warming made recent North American temperatures at least 150 times more likely to occur. And every heat wave happening today is made more likely and more intense by climate change.
Study coauthor Kristie Ebi works at the Center For Health and The Global Environment at the University of Washington. She warns that heat related mortality in the U.S. is the number one weather-related killer. Ebi said that the human body can’t operate as well in high temperature.
In essence, you’re just making a much hotter environment for your heart, for your lungs, for your kidneys and the cells don’t operate so efficiently. So even small increases in temperature can make a big difference in how we are responding physiologically to those higher temperatures.
Human caused climate change is due to the burning of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and oceans. Heat waves are already one of the deadliest natural hazards and this one slammed areas, not used to high heat. And in some cases, without widespread air conditioning. Experts in the study say similar heat waves will become less rare in the years to come and may start affecting areas further and further away from the equator. That’s unless major efforts take place to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
Haitian President, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated at his home early Wednesday. Interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph confirmed the killing, which throws the Caribbean country further into chaos with anti-government protests, gang violence and a COVID-19 surge. Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, called on Haitians to use the incident to unite.
In front of this horrible situation, as leaders, we need to find a way to show leadership and then to show as well, a sense of coming together. So now I think the most important thing is for the authorities to sit down with all stakeholders, everybody in society, to use that horrible situation in favor of the country, not to divide it deeper.
He added that the act was likely done by what he called professional killers. And that video of the attack shows they were speaking Spanish. Authorities said later Wednesday, that they had killed four suspects and arrested two others. And three police officers held hostage by the suspected gunmen were also freed. Moise’s presidency was considered illegitimate by many observers around the world. US human rights advocates said his presidency should have ended in February, but he refused to step down. An instructor at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, Beatrice Lindstrom wrote on Twitter, “President Moise leaves behind a severe power vacuum, very much of his own making after systematically stripping other branches of power and failing to schedule elections.” Advocates that also criticized Moise for other abuses, including the use of live ammunition against protests and arrests of a Supreme Court justice, a police inspector general and a former presidential candidate. It’s not clear exactly what action the US will take though President Joe Biden initially called the assassination worrisome.
President Joe Biden:
We need a lot more information, but it’s very worrisome about the state of Haiti.
For all the latest, search Haiti on usatoday.com.
Tropical Storm Elsa will continue moving across the Southeast on Thursday. The weather system left at least one person dead in Florida and several injured in Southeast Georgia. Authorities in Jacksonville said the person was killed when a tree fell on two cars. And in Georgia, a possible tornado struck a recreational vehicle park, injuring 10 people at Kings Bay Naval submarine base. Elsa will move toward the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday, bringing flash flooding, up to five inches of rain in some areas and potential tornadoes in the south up to Virginia.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is back. The contest was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this year’s final round will take place at Orlando’s Disney World on Thursday. 11 young spelling experts will take the stage after already conquering local and regional competition. And the champion receives a $50,000 prize. You can tune in live on ESPN 2 beginning at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.
And you can find 5 Things wherever you get your audio, including Apple Podcasts, whereas always we ask for a five star review if you have a chance. Thanks to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. Five Things is part of the USA TODAY Network.