Rick Scott updates lawmakers on Zika outbreak

Zika Mosquitoes

Gov. Rick Scott told state lawmakers Friday he will continue to take steps to protect its residents and visitors from the Zika virus, but said he was unsure whether their federal counterparts would step up to the plate.

The Naples Republican updated lawmakers on the Zika crisis during a conference call Friday. During the 20-minute call, Scott told lawmakers what the state is doing to combat the spread of the virus and what they can do to help.

The call comes one week after Scott announced the first cases of locally acquired Zika virus were discovered in Florida. The virus is believed to have been transmitted in the Wynwood neighborhood, a trendy arts district in Miami.

Scott visited the area Thursday, and said the state was able to clear a 10-block area in the northwest corner of the zone. The state Department of Health, he said, determined there was no local transmission occurring in the area.

In June, the governor used his executive authority to allocate $26.2 million in state funds for Zika preparedness, prevention and response. The money was to be used for mosquito surveillance and abatement, training mosquito control technicians, and purchasing more prevention kits from the CDC.

But that isn’t enough, and Scott said President Barack Obama and Congress must provide more money to Florida. The president has said he would send $5.6 million to Florida to help combat the spread.

The Senate failed to act on a $1.1 billion Zika spending plan before they left for their summer recess. Senate Democrats blocked the House-approved bill, which, among other things, included provisions to defund Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.

“We don’t know if the federal government will be our partner and provide the resources they should,” said Scott. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep (residents and visitors) safe.”

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


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