While there is near unanimity about the dangers posed by the Zika virus, there’s a political split over funding the fight against it.
President Barack Obama sent Congress a request in February for $1.9 billion in emergency funding “to respond to Zika virus transmission across the United States and internationally.”
Tuesday, the Senate approved a $1.1 billion Zika funding measure. Late Wednesday, the House of Representatives said yes to $622 million, a little more than half of what the Senate passed and about one-third of what the President asked. The White House says it will continue to press for its full request.
As the two houses of Congress try to find common ground on how much to spend, the disease is already making inroads into U.S. territory.
On Friday, a pregnant Puerto Rican woman’s fetus was determined to have developed microcephaly, the birth defect associated with Zika, becoming the first American so diagnosed.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control estimates hundreds of thousands in Puerto Rico will be infected by the Zika virus this year.
There will be more. Summer travel plans are being changed. Decisions to send young American athletes to the Olympics in Brazil are being scrutinized. And some couples are questioning whether it’s a good time to get pregnant.
All of that will be part of the political calculations of a public health crisis going forward.
Funding to Fight Zika Virus Shouldn’t Wait
Editorial Board – Boston Globe
One doesn’t have to look far to find examples of Congressional dysfunction. But Congress’ inability to fully fund a coordinated response to the Zika virus stands alone because of the seemingly blatant disregard for public health involved. With mosquito season just around the corner, it’s hard to see the delay on Capitol Hill as anything other than irresponsible. Congress must treat Zika as a health emergency and fully fund the Obama administration’s $1.9 billion proposal to combat it.
Astoundingly, Congress has taken three months to weigh the proper funding levels even as the virus has wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and Central America. In Puerto Rico alone there’s been close to 700 cases.
We Don’t Need Billion$ to Prevent Zika
Paul Driessen – Townhall
Zika is not spread by generic “mosquitoes.” Its primary carrier is a very particular blood-sucker with unusual habits and habitats. Aedes aegyptiis known as the yellow fever mosquito, because it is the principal avenue for spreading that nasty disease…
They live close to houses, rarely fly more than 80 feet from where they hatch, bite during the day, and hatch from eggs laid in tires, cans, jars, flower pots, vases, bromeliads, holes in trees, and almost any other containers that hold water, indoors and outdoors, in backyards and junkyards.
That means national and international health ministries, neighborhoods and individual families can undertake simple, low-cost actions that will bring rapid, significant returns with limited time, money and resources – by eliminating mosquitoes and keeping them away from people. They should start now.
Overreaction to Zika Virus Threat Could Affect Psychological Well-Being of U.S. Citizens
Vector biologist Laura Harrington and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University says overreaction to the threat of Zika virus in the continental U.S. could be harmful to citizens’ psychological well-being, as well as the environment as it may lead to mass spraying of insecticides that may not be effective in controlling the mosquitos.
“While it is likely we will have some Zika cases within continental U.S. borders this year; we are unlikely to see an outbreak of the magnitude seen in South and Central America.”