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CNN NEWSROOM

Gov. Cuomo Expected to be Questioned in Sexual Harassment Probe; Push to Fund Alternative Care Site As Cases Spike in Missouri; Engineer Investigating Surfside Collapse: I've Been Sidelined; "History of the Sitcom" Premiers Sunday at 9PM & 10PM. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 16, 2021 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:30:00]

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, that's a dig at the attorney general herself. Because they're essentially saying they think she's going to run for governor. That's something speculated for quite a bit.

But it will be interesting to see when this report comes out what sort of response it will be from the public about what is said in that report -- Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And it will be interesting to see if we get any insight into what answers are given in this interview as well.

Thank you, Brynn Gingras, for your reporting.

Now, the surge of COVID infections so intense, health officials in Missouri are now asking for funding to set up another care site to handle the strain. We'll go there live.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:35:33]

CABRERA: Turning now to Missouri, one of four states where the daily COVID-19 case rate is more than triple the U.S. average.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is bracing for more people, too many to handle, needing hospitalization, and is now asking the state to fund a COVID-19 alternative care site.

We're joined now by Katie Towns, the acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

Yesterday, your department reported 40 new COVID-19 cases among residents. That is the most in a single day since January. I know you're worried about having enough hospital capacity and staff to care for these people.

Has the state addressed your request yet?

KATIE TOWNS, ACTING DIRECTOR, SPRINGFIELD-GREENE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: We've had preliminary discussions with them. They seem to be positive. And we're working through a lot of the different logistics and details of the request. And we've been told that we will have more information later today.

CABRERA: The fact that you even feel like you're going to need this extra site, you're going to need extra staff, can you paint the picture of how dire it is there right now?

TOWNS: Yes. It's at a level that we've not seen before. And I think that the situation developed extremely quickly.

And the warning signals just were alarming. But also didn't really give us enough time to adequately keep up.

So our hospitals did reach capacity this week. And we saw that coming at the end of last week and knew that we were going to have to address that with a request for additional resources.

CABRERA: A doctor from Texas County, Missouri, said COVID patients that were coming in were gasping, needing oxygen. What are you seeing in terms of severity of illness?

TOWNS: So the thing that I think is probably most striking is the demographic and the age.

The age of illness has really shifted from being an older population back in our initial surge in the winter to being ages 20, 30, 40 years old in the hospital and needing ICU care and oxygen to help them get through this illness.

And so the severity is much more intense. And it's just hard to keep up with the needs when you have the numbers that we have with the severity of an acuity that they are requiring?

CABRERA: Do you know how many of the patients are vaccinated versus unvaccinated?

TOWNS: So almost all of the patients that are in the hospital are unvaccinated.

You know, there are a few breakthrough cases, and we knew that we would see that. But the majority of people in the hospitals currently are unvaccinated.

CABRERA: We see the data and the charts just going up, up, up. You're anticipating more hospitalizations. How much worse could this get?

TOWNS: Unfortunately, I don't think we've seen the worst of it. And you know, that is based on some of the information that we're seeing about the Delta variant in other places that have been attacked by this variant. But we also know that we have yet to sort of see some of the

interactions and the transmission that likely occurred over the Fourth of July holiday as well as other gatherings that are still taking place.

And so over the coming weeks, the hospitals as well as our department are projecting that we see numbers increase.

And so we hope that we get to that peak and start to decline sooner than later. But it's hard to predict at this point when that will be.

CABRERA: It sounds like you're in a position of having to be more reactive than proactive at this point.

But in California, in Los Angeles County, for example, they've mandated masks again for everyone indoors. Do you have any plans to do something like that there?

TOWNS: So obviously, we're discussing all options. But really, the resources that we have that are limited have to be devoted right now to vaccinating. Because we know that that's the long-term solution.

We have -- we've spent a whole year and a half waiting for that tool to be available to us. And we do have limited resources.

And we have staff teams running all over our community on a daily basis, looking for ways that we can vaccinate more and more.

[13:40:01]

And so we're doing that and we're starting to see some of that pay off in terms of increases in our vaccine delivery over this past seven days, even has been higher than the past several weeks.

And so, at the point we are now, we know that that is the long-term solution. And we're going to keep our resources focused on that effort.

CABRERA: Katie Towns, I appreciate your time. Sending you strength and your entire community strength for this ongoing battle.

Thank you for raising awareness and spending time with us today.

TOWNS: I appreciate the time. Thank you.

CABRERA: Sidelined? An engineer hired to investigate the Surfside collapse says he's not getting access that he needs to financers. He joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:45:42]

CABRERA: Ninety-seven bodies have now been recovered from the site of the collapsed condo in Surfside, Florida. Eight people remain unaccounted. That once massive debris pile is now nearly level with the ground. And

get this, 22 million pounds of concrete and rubble has been removed from the site so far.

Crews are working nonstop, as they have since day one, promising the victim's families they won't give up until every last loved one is found.

The search for the cause of the collapse not letting up, either.

According to the renowned structural engineer hired by the city of Surfside, it's becoming more challenging. He said he's been sidelined and denied access to information and materials that could help him get answers.

That engineer, Allyn Kilsheimer, is with us now.

Allyn, thank you for being with us.

You investigated the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. You know what is needed for a proper investigation. What are you being prevented from doing right now?

ALLYN KILSHEIMER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Well, the site is -- was under control with the Fire and Rescue people. It now, as I understand it, is under the control of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

And they have called this a crime scene back even Friday -- I got here the day after it happened. They called it a crime scene then.

Therefore, they're in control of everything. And they don't -- they have to do their job. And they -- until they do their job, we can't go in to do samples of materials and take those samples and test them to understand what the various components of the building that came down was.

CABRERA: And is that typical? Is that part of the process that you've experienced in the past, or is this abnormal?

KILSHEIMER: I've not run into that before.

CABRERA: What do you most want access to. What can't wait?

KILSHEIMER: Well, I'm not sure there's an issue of can't waiting. But what I'd like to have the access to first is the basement slab of the building to go in there, to do the exploratory testing of the ground, the power foundations and all that stuff to understand that.

Because basically, as I understand it, based on emails I get, a lot of people living on the coast in this area are worried about their buildings.

And there are people that have gotten them to believe that this problem is something in the ground. We don't know if it's a problem in the ground or not.

We need to do this testing and evaluation in order to be able to understand that.

CABRERA: Based on what you have been able to do so far, has it helped to narrow down at all what may have happened?

KILSHEIMER: No. You know, when we got here the first night, I probably had 20 or 30 things as possible triggers. I've gotten rid of one or two of them but I've added maybe five or six. So, no.

We're doing all of the computer modelling and engineering of the original drawings to make sure that we feel the original designs were correct based on the code requirements at the time.

What we can't do is now look at the materials used in the building to see if it met the requirements of the drawings.

And if it didn't, the input, the strength of those materials to input into our models to see if that had an impact in any way, shape, or form to the collapse.

CABRERA: If you had been given the access you asked for, do you think you would be closer to an answer by now as to what happened?

KILSHEIMER: I can't really answer that until I see what we see when we do have access.

CABRERA: Yes.

KILSHEIMER: There's no way to know.

CABRERA: You were hired by the city of Surfside to do this investigation. But there's, of course, a question about whether the city is responsible for what happened in some capacity.

The Miami-Dade state attorney said she'll pursue a grand jury investigation into the collapse. I wonder if that could be playing any role right now in terms of your access.

Do you regret contracting with the city versus a state or federal agency?

KILSHEIMER: No. The deal is that I've been asked to figure out why the building fell down. I've not been asked to see whose fault is it or place blame on other people.

[13:50:06]

That is what all these attorneys and their experts that I'm sure are out there will be doing.

We're not defending anybody. We're just trying to find out facts so we can represent factuality why this building came down.

CABRERA: There's another investigative body. The mayor of Miami-Dade County says the National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the collapse with assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Let me read you part of her statement.

It says, quote, "We have a large team of engineers and other forensic experts from NIST and other federal agencies on site performing extensive testing, measurements, photographing and 3-D imaging, and collection and tagging of evidentiary materials to collect as much data as possible to support the full investigation."

And for our viewers, the NIST is the federal agency given the power to investigate building collapses after 9/11. It's, basically, to building collapses what the NTSB is to plane crashes.

Allyn, do you have confidence in this investigative body, the NIST, to get to the bottom of what happened?

KILSHEIMER: I don't know how they do what we do. I don't know if they think about of all the things that we think about. Just like they probably don't know if they think of the of the things that we think about.

What we're used to doing, when multiple people are interested, we all, from an engineering standpoint, work together. We share all the testing results and factual data.

We don't share opinions. We just share everything together.

And that, to me, is the best way do something like this. And I'd love to be able to be working at the same time as NIST, doing what we want to do and they can have what we have, and we'd love to see what they have.

CABRERA: Allyn Kilsheimer, thank you for your time and let's please keep in touch as this investigation moves forward.

We'll be right back.

KILSHEIMER: Sure. Thanks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:55:43]

CABRERA: Since the beginning of television, sitcoms have kept generations of Americans smiling and helped us navigate an ever- changing cultural landscape.

Now the new CNN original series, "THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM," brings us a behind-the-scenes look at your favorite shows from across the decades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA EDEN, ACTRESS: Television has changed with the times. But there's a lot more comedy than just Genie and her master. A lot more going on.

(SINGING)

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have an interesting moment because, in the real world, the women's liberation movement is pushing female equality further than it had ever been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: You saw the star of the iconic sitcom, "I Dream of Genie," in the last clip, Barbara Eden. I spoke to her about her time on the show.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Barbara, so good to have you here with us.

Everybody remembers Genie and her bottle and her magical powers. But what was it about this show do you think that made people fall in love with it?

EDEN: I think the fact that it made them happy. I think that is what most sitcoms do. People watch them because they can relate.

Now, I know that seems like a stretch with the Genie, but it has helped a lot of women that I know, particularly, to have seen that there was a woman who was powerful but she used it for good.

And it made it feel like that they could get beyond the fantasy into the real world.

I've had women come up to me and tell me that they have used -- when they were growing up, when it was difficult, they would have a special place that was their bottle. And they could go there and just have their own feelings.

And it grew as they got older. Of course, they knew it was magic, but it helped them.

CABRERA: At the time, your Genie costume showed your midriff, it caused some controversy. How did you feel about that?

EDEN: And that was foolish. It was really foolish.

Even then, it was modest. But they had a big hissy fit over my naval. And when we did the pilot, we didn't have chiffon in the pantaloons. It was just plain, one layer of chiffon.

But, my gosh, I had a total bathing suit underneath. It was so modest.

CABRERA: Take us behind the scenes a little bit more if you will. Are there any favorite memories that you can share with us?

EDEN: Oh, there are many. There are many.

I think one that -- oh, my goodness, one -- I didn't know what to do. Sammy Davis Jr was one of our guest stars. And he was such a

delightful man. Sammy Davis Jr was one of our guest stars. And he was such a delightful man.

And of course, Larry -- Larry was special. He was a special child.

The camera was on Sammy and he was standing next to me and Larry was off camera feeding him the line.

But instead of feeding him the line, he let spit hang out of his lip all the way down. You know how you do, the guys do in high school when they want to be really disgusting.

And Sammy didn't think that it was funny and I didn't either actually.

It was his shot and he wanted to hear the lines, not see spit. I sat there like, I don't know what is going on, you know.

CABRERA: Well, so nice to talk with you. Thank you for that little bit of light that you gave us today.

Barbara Eden, I really appreciate it.

EDEN: And I appreciate it. Thank you, Ana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Be sure to tune in, the all-new CNN original series, "HISTORY OF THE SITCOM," Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.