How about now?
Is the spread of the Zika virus enough of a public health threat yet for Congress to get the $1.9 billion the Obama administration first asked them for months ago?
Although, I’m sure by now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials — like those in say… Florida! — would take even the $1.1 billion in funding that the Senate just couldn’t bring itself to authorize before it left for a seven-week hiatus.
Heck, let’s even drop it down to the $622 million the U.S. House wanted to give before being strong-armed by the Senate.
But it’s time to do something, right?
We’ve got well over 2,000 cases of travel-related Zika infections in the U.S. and territories. In the continental U.S., the vast majority of those are in, you guessed it, the Sunshine State.
That means that the virus, which can cause debilitating birth defects like microcephaly, has been transmitted via mosquito. This is the potential nightmare scenario that scientists and public health officials have been warning about for months.
Yet, our federal lawmakers were too busy using the issue as a political football to get anything passed so that counties like ours can do proper mosquito control and scientists like those at Scripps Research Florida can work toward developing a vaccine.
We’re fortunate that Florida lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are all over this. The two have been leaders in the Florida delegation at pushing for more federal funds.
They were both in Palm Beach County Wednesday meeting with local officials and Scripps honchos, and renewing a push for more funds.
Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been blowing a little smoke with all his administration’s efforts to combat the spread of Zika. Turns out the governor cut funds to counties for mosquito control in his first term, questioning its value; and so far has distributed only about $1.2 million of the $26.1 million he promised to help fight Zika months ago.
While public health officials still say that it is not yet time for a full-fledged freakout, that doesn’t mean we should wait for an outbreak before doing what’s necessary.
I mean, school is about to start in Palm Beach County and some parents are growing concerned that the mosquito-borne virus has taken hold here. Yes, parents don’t tend to think too rationally sometimes when it comes to their kids. But who can blame them?
Especially, when the officials they trust to protect their interests are falling down on the job.