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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

At times combative, Florida lawmakers discuss Zika in Washington



WASHINGTON – The director of the CDC painted a grim picture about the Zika virus during a briefing for Florida lawmakers this morning and said it’s likely there is already a non-travel related case in the state.

“This is a much harder to kill mosquito than normal. This is the cockroach of mosquitoes. It lives indoors and outdoors, bites both day and night, and bites four or five at a time. It’s very difficult to control,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We must act quickly to stop the spread of Zika,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, co-chair of the delegation. “Today we heard from a variety of experts about the grave threat Floridians face. I’m confident our delegation will be instrumental in encouraging Congress to put aside partisanship and give disease-fighters the resources they need to protect women and newborns.”

But there were flashes of partisan differences.

Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, pointedly told Frieden that he had adequate resources in the fight. “You keep coming back here asking for money. You’ve got money,” Mica said, suggesting there were not an overwhelming number of Zika cases in the U.S.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, sarcastically asked Frieden if he had a “money tree growing in the courtyard of the CDC."

"No," he replied.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, accused Republicans of downplaying the threat and said President Obama’s full $1.9 funding request should have been approved already. “The Congress has been completely derelict,” she said.

Overall, the meeting was cordial and a sizable, bipartisan group showed up, including Sen. Marco Rubio who supports full funding.

"It's probably just a matter of time before, unfortunately, we are faced with an epidemic," said Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 11:35am]


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