Things aren’t looking too good for Florida and the Zika virus today. The numbers of cases continue to rise and they have received no help from the federal government. Two weeks ago, Osceola County Manager Donald Fisher sent a plea to the state Health Department, in which he explained just how unprepared Florida is to battle the Zika virus. The state is lacking in sufficient staff, the resources in the counties are exhausted, and they lack readily available funds to respond to the disaster. He warns that people’s lives are at stake.
Osceola’s letter was taken to the Senate and read by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to try and convince his colleagues that the bill to fund 1.9 billion dollars to contain and eradicate the virus needs to be passed soon. He pointed out that Osceola on their own needs close to a million dollars in funding to fight this “global public health emergency.”
The mosquito-borne Zika virus causes fairly mild symptoms such as fever, headache, red eyes, skin rash, and joint pain, and it only causes these symptoms in 20 percent of the people infected. However, the virus, which we now know can be transmitted sexually, is also linked to the possible development of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause temporary paralysis. The biggest threat that the Zika virus poses, however, is its link to infected pregnant women giving birth to children with severe disorders, namely microcephaly.
Despite the heartwarming plea from Florida, the U.S. Senate refused to pass the bill, and instead countered with a lower offer of $1.1 billion package. After much debate, the Republican controlled House of Representatives agreed to provide a $622.1 million package, which simply combines $352.1 from an Ebola fund and $270 million from a Department of Health and Human Services administrative fund, arguing that the $589 million in Ebola funds that have been repurposed for the Zika virus will get us through just fine.
Of course, Florida is still woefully unprepared as it sits on the front line in the battle against the Zika virus.
What are your thoughts on how congress is dealing with this emergency?
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