Reps. Diaz-Balart, Deutch and Sens. Nelson, Rubio Lead 47 Colleagues in Bipartisan Letter to President Trump Urging Continued Support for Zika Response
WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Bill Nelson (FL) led a bipartisan, bicameral group of 47 members of Congress in urging President Trump to maintain a comprehensive effort across the federal government to combat the Zika virus.
“Last year, the United States confronted the Zika virus, which became a serious public health crisis,” said Congressman Diaz-Balart. “With the mosquito-borne illness expected to make a comeback this summer, we must ensure Florida and other states impacted by Zika have the support of the federal government.”
“The worst of the Zika season is almost here and Floridians are once again on the front lines,” said Congressman Deutch. “Families are worried about their kids and local businesses are concerned about tourism. Zika may have faded from the headlines, but South Florida urgently needs federal resources to be dedicated to preventing infection, understanding the risks of birth defects, and the discovery of a vaccine. I’m proud to join this bipartisan chorus calling for a strong federal response before Florida hits the warm, wet months that will reinvigorate Zika-carrying mosquito populations and put our communities at greater risk.”
A PDF of the letter can be found here, or read below:
Dear Mr. President:
We urge you to continue to support a comprehensive response across the federal government to protect against the threat of the Zika virus. As of March 29, 43,485 cases of Zika virus disease have been reported in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories. With cases in nearly every corner of the United States, preventing the spread of Zika virus should be a national priority. As we enter mosquito season, maintaining federal support for vector control, diagnostic testing, and public awareness and education efforts will be critical to stopping the spread of the virus. A robust response to this threat will be especially important to the health and safety of Americans living in regions with large mosquito populations.
As you know, Zika virus is transmitted when humans are bitten by infected mosquitos, through blood transfusions, and through sexual contact. Additionally, pregnant women are among some of the most vulnerable populations. While many of the cases reported in the states were acquired abroad, Florida, Texas and the territories experienced local transmission of the virus, requiring a large investment of federal, state and local resources. So far, the CDC has tallied a total of 5,182 cases of Zika virus infection nationwide, with approximately 216 cases in Florida and six cases in Texas from local mosquitoes, and more than 38,000 cases in Puerto Rico and the other territories.
Until we have a vaccine, Zika virus will continue to threaten American families with increased risks of birth defects, with the most serious cases presenting life-long challenges and high health care costs. Researchers have also linked Zika infection with neurologic, eye, and heart problems in adults, and there is still much more that we do not know about this virus.
Last year, after months of debate, Congress worked together in a bipartisan manner to appropriate $1.1 billion to support our nation’s Zika response. We urge your administration to ensure all funding is appropriately distributed in a timely manner to support efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and expedite vaccine research to protect our constituents from this public health threat.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to working with you as we continue the fight against the Zika virus.