CDC Director Warns: Federal Funds To Fight Zika Nearly Exhausted
Sept. 5, 2016 (EIRNS)—Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced to press on Aug. 29 that federal funds to combat the Zika virus are nearly exhausted, The New York Times reported on Aug. 30. Frieden warned that should Florida, for example, have another cluster of locally-transmitted cases—beyond the 47 cases currently identified—or were other states to face the same situation, the CDC would be unable to send emergency funds.
"The cupboard is bare," Frieden said. "There’s no way to provide that." In the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine in Florida, and flooding in Louisiana, state health officials fear Zika will surge in those states, along with other mosquito-borne diseases. One of the most vulnerable areas, the Gulf Coast, is only halfway through the peak mosquito period, health officials warn, adding that both Houston and New Orleans could very well see an outbreak.
It is expected that when Congress returns to work tomorrow, funding for Zika will be one of the priority issues to be tackled, but it is fraught with political squabbling. Obama’s requested $1.9 billion for Zika wasn’t voted up; now the Senate has scheduled a vote tomorrow on a $1.1 billion Zika package proposed by Republicans, but Democrats are blocking it, because it excludes Planned Parenthood as one of the agencies to receive funding.
This is insanity, Frieden warns. Critical programs are at stake if funding isn’t approved, citing the situation in Puerto Rico as particularly disastrous, as it doesn’t even have a mosquito-control agency but has the largest number of Zika cases in the U.S.—almost 9,000.