Florida has done its part to slow the spread of Zika, but Gov. Rick Scott said it is time for the federal government to step up.
There are 36 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida, all of which were believed to be transmitted in Miami-Dade County. The Department of Health believes active transmissions are only occurring in Wynwood, a trendy arts neighborhood, and in the Miami Beach area.
“We all have to be part of this. We have to get rid of standing water, wear bug repellent, wear protective clothing,” said Scott during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday morning. “If we do that, then we’re going to continue to do well. This state does a good job with mosquito control.”
But the state can’t do it alone, and Scott said federal lawmakers need to do their part to help Florida. Scott said the state has asked federal health officials to send more Zika prevention kits, which it hasn’t done. He also criticized Congress for taking a recess before passing a Zika funding bill.
“The federal government has not been a good partner,” he said.
President Barack Obama in February requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. The GOP-led House passed a $1.1 billion spending package, but the Senate Democrats blocked the bill.
Scott isn’t the only lawmaker calling for help from federal lawmakers. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine are expected to hold a press conference Monday to urge Congress to return from recess to deal with the outbreak.
The outbreak in Miami Beach comes as the state reported more than 57 million visitors came to Florida in the first six months of the year. Miami Beach is a popular tourist destination, with 48 percent of all visitors to the Miami area staying in Miami Beach in 2015.
Last week, Scott called on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Health to work with hotels and restaurants in Miami-Dade County on Zika prevention and education.
“We started preparing for Zika back in February, and we’ve kept everyone informed. We put out accurate information, timely information,” said Scott. “That’s why we’re going to continue to see outstanding tourism numbers in our state. People know we are prepared. We prepare for hurricanes, we prepare for storms, (and) we’ve prepared for Zika.”
Scott is scheduled to spend Monday afternoon in Miami. He’ll visit Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami, before hosting a Zika preparedness roundtable at De Hostos Senior Center in Miami. He’ll be joined at the roundtable by Commissioner Adam Putnam and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
__The Associated Press contributed to this report.