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Rick Scott boosts state spending in fight against Zika

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Gov. Rick Scott has injected another $10 million in state money into the fight to contain Zika, voicing frustration at Washington’s failure to act.

Fresh off meetings with congressional leaders in the nation’s capital, Scott told reporters in Fort Myers, “It’s hard to believe they’re not focused on this. We’ve got to take care of our pregnant women and their babies.”

Scott used his emergency executive authority to shift the money from Florida’s General Revenue Fund into the Zika program. On top of the money he authorized in June, total state spending on the virus now amounts to $36.2 million.

The money will pay for mosquito surveillance and abatement; training for mosquito control workers; boosting laboratory capacity; and the purchase of Zika prevention kits, Scott announced.

State House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes, commended the move.

“In light of the baffling inability of Washington, D.C., to pass a clean Zika funding bill, the governor and Legislature are working as expeditiously as possible to take every action within our power to halt the spread of Zika,” he said.

Scott met with legislative leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of Florida’s congressional delegation to press for Zika funding.

“Everybody supported it. That’s all great. I need a bill,” Scott said.

“The federal government is responsible, and they should be very active in doing research, they should help us in mosquito abatement. On top of that, I’ve been asking for more support from the CDC.”

Specifically, Scott said he had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 10,000 Zika prevention kits and lab facilities.

“We’ve been waiting for almost a month for 10,000 Zika prevention kits for pregnant women. They’re giving them in Puerto Rico, but they’re not giving us [them] here in Florida,” he said.

More than 75 locally acquired Zika infections have been reported in Florida. The total caseload is around 800, Scott said.

Senate Democrats earlier this month blocked a $1.1 billion plan to fight Zika because the bill would have prevented any of that money going to Planned Parenthood.

“The federal government has got to understand that this is a national issue. This is not a partisan issue. Zika doesn’t say, ‘Oh, if you’re a Republican or Democrat it’s going to impact you.’ This is about pregnant women and developing babies.”

Correspondent Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster contributed to this report.

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