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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott gives state power to spend $26.2 million on Zika

23

June

Gov. Rick Scott declared Thursday he would use his executive powers under a public health emergency to spend up to $26.2 million in state money to fight Zika virus.

The money will be used for mosquito control, lab equipment and to purchase "Zika prevention kits" from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC website, the kits include a bed net, insect repellant, standing water treatment tabs and condoms.

It will be released as needed, the governor's office said. Scott has given state Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip the authority to spend the money.

"We are in the middle of hot, rainy weather which is when mosquitoes are most prevalent," Scott said in a statement. "It is clear that allocating this funding is necessary if we are going to stay ahead of the spread of this virus."

Until Thursday, Scott had resisted expanding an emergency declaration he signed in February to give himself the authority to spend state money. Instead, he has called on the federal government to fund Zika prevention programs.

In a statement Thursday, he again called out "Washington's inaction."

Asked earlier this month about why he hasn't tapped into state reserves, he told Fox News that Florida has been spending money to fight the disease but that it would "rely on our federal partners."

"This is a national issue," he said. "This is not just affecting Florida."

There are 213 documented cases of Zika in Florida, according to the Department of Health, and they are all travel-related. There are no known cases of people being infected with the virus after being bitten by a mosquito in Florida.

[Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2016 5:08pm]

    

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