WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Governor Rick Scott has been meeting with federal leaders on the importance of putting partisanship aside and treating the Zika Virus threat like a hurricane. Governor Scott has met with several Congressional members to ask that they quickly hold a field hearing on Zika preparedness in Miami. Governor Scott also met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell this morning to discuss various requests state agencies and leaders from Florida have for the federal government to ensure Florida is prepared for the possible spread of Zika.
Governor Rick Scott said, “This morning I met with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to relay requests that state agencies need from the federal government. The Florida Department of Health is requesting 5,000 Zika preparedness kits to ensure Florida residents and visitors have access to items that will reduce the risk of getting Zika in the event it becomes mosquito-borne in Florida. They also requested additional resources for mosquito control districts for staffing to enhance mosquito surveillance, mosquito abatement, increased training for mosquito control technicians and laboratory capacity. We also need a plan from FEMA on how federal resources will be allocated to states in the event an emergency is declared if the virus becomes mosquito-borne in America.
“I have stayed in constant communication with our state agencies and local county mosquito control districts who are working each day to ensure our state is prepared. These agencies will also be on the frontlines if the virus becomes mosquito-borne in our state. It is clear from listening to them that having additional federal funding available is needed.
“While many in Congress have offered various alternatives and plans, the federal government must immediately do the right thing and come together on a solution to keep our families safe – that has to be the number one priority. In Florida, we know that we have to prepare for a hurricane before a storm makes landfall. Battling Zika is no different. If we don’t prepare now, our families and visitors will be at risk if this virus becomes mosquito-borne in America.
“I have also asked Congressional members to quickly hold a field hearing on Zika in Miami. Miami is leading the state in travel-related cases of the Zika virus and is an international hub for travel, especially for those traveling to Brazil this summer for the Olympics where the virus is spreading rapidly. Mosquito populations are also at their peak during the summer season, which means we need a solution fast. I want Congress to hear directly from our county health officers, our mosquito control districts and doctors about what is needed in our state in order to be prepared. Florida cannot be in a situation this summer where we are battling storms and the spread of Zika at the same time. I am confident that the federal government will fulfill these requests in a timely manner to ensure Florida is fully prepared.”
Florida is leading the nation in travel-related cases of Zika with 112 cases, and as the state approaches the rainy summer months, it is critical that Congress and President Obama quickly agree on a plan for additional funding to ensure states are prepared for the possible spread of this virus.