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Rick Scott decries ‘bureaucracy and politics’ in federal Zika aid

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Gov. Rick Scott demanded Tuesday that the Obama administration speed delivery of $1.1 billion in federal money to fight the Zika virus, “to protect pregnant women and their developing babies” in Florida.

Congress approved the spending, which President Obama signed off on in September, but the money has yet to arrive, Scott said in a written statement.

“All year we watched as bureaucracy and politics got in the way of funding for this public health emergency, and the time for bureaucracy is over,” Scott said.

“While Florida continues to work through the bureaucratic and highly complex approval process for federal funding, there should be an expedited award to Florida given the fact that we are the only state currently battling local transmission of Zika through mosquitoes.”

Scott’s demand came about two weeks after state health officials declared a new Zika transmission zone in Miami-Dade County.

The governor also demanded a breakdown of how the money is to be spent.

“The appropriation bill for Zika funding required the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report on the proposed uses of this funding within 30 days, and that report should be made available to Florida immediately,” the governor’s office said.

“While visiting Miami last week, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the Zika virus will ‘become endemic,’ ” Scott said.

“He also stressed the importance of investing in public health, saying, ‘it pays off.’ That is why Dr. Frieden should absolutely agree that we need the immediate allocation of all available federal funding to Florida.”

The state seeks money for epidemiological research and testing; public health emergency preparedness; pregnancy risk monitoring; and to monitor birth defects related to the virus.

“Our state has been actively engaged combatting Zika since our very first travel-related case in February,” Scott said.

Click here for a timeline of steps Scott has taken against Zika.

“We have committed every available resource, including more than $61 million in state funding, to beat this virus and protect our residents and visitors. We expect every federal dollar possible,” the governor said.

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