Scott Fuhrman is terrified for his unborn daughter.
So terrified, in fact, he and his wife are pondering whether she should temporarily move to protect herself — and their children — from the Zika virus.
“We’re in a tough position, like thousands of other families, trying to figure out what to do,” said Fuhrman, a South Miami Democrat running in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. “We’re pretty scared.”
The Fuhrman family lives a few miles south of Wynwood, where the first cases of locally acquired Zika were believed to be transmitted. His office is just a few blocks away from the area, and his wife, who is 22 weeks pregnant, occasionally visited the office.
She’s being tested for Zika regularly, and is taking all of the necessary precautions, including using bug spray and covering up from head to toe when leaving the house. But with more than a dozen cases of locally transmitted in South Florida, they’re now considering whether moving her out of the area is their safest bet.
But a move, Fuhrman said, is a Catch-22. His wife’s pregnancy is considered high risk, so she needs to see specialists in Miami. She could relocate to Maine — where they have a family home — but wouldn’t have the access to doctors she needs. That means she’d have to fly back-and-forth for appointments, adding extra stress.
“We’re very scared,” he said. “I don’t know what to do, and Lindsay and I talk about it every day.”
And while she has the option of getting out of town, not everyone does. And that makes the first-time candidate even more upset. He said congressional inaction is putting families across Florida at risk, and Republican lawmakers have turned a “public health crisis into a political football.”
“I’m beside myself,” he said. “I’m so furious with political leaders that they would endanger a whole generation of children.”
In February, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus. While the request was met with some bipartisan support, Senate leaders ultimately passed a $1.1 billion funding package.
The House passed a much smaller funding package, but after budget negotiations approved a $1.1 billion plan and sent it back to the Senate for approval. That plan was packed with provisions — called poison pills by Democrats — to defund Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico and ease rules on pesticide spraying.
Senate Democrats blocked the bill, and Congress left for summer recess without approving funding.
“We need a clean Zika bill passed immediately,” said Fuhrman.
The issue of Zika has been at the forefront of his campaign. He’s been a vocal critic of how Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Miami Republican he’s hoping to unseat, has handled the issue, saying she should have fought harder for funding.
But as a father and a fifth-generation South Floridian, Fuhrman said he would have been out there sounding the alarm even if he wasn’t running for Congress.
“It’s tough. You see this threat to your unborn child,” said Fuhrman. “I’m standing up and fighting for her, it’s my duty.”