Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trying to stop Zika's spread in South Florida

MIAMI — Gov. Rick Scott zigzagged around the Wynwood area of Miami on Thursday morning, talking with local business owners about what the state can do to combat the spread of Zika.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden also surveyed the neighborhood Thursday morning, saying he was "impressed" by efforts to control the mosquito population in the area.

"They've got over a hundred teams in the field and ensure that people hear the key messages, which is get rid of anywhere the mosquito can breed," Frieden said. "This is a very difficult mosquito to control and this is a very vibrant neighborhood."

Frieden made the remarks with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez before addressing members of Congress and Scott privately at the Wynwood Community Center.

"There is no information to suggest there is a risk anywhere else in Miami," Frieden said. "In fact, the area we are concerned about is about 500 square feet right in the middle of the 1-mile radius where there have been infections."

State health officials have said, however, that they are investigating one locally transmitted Zika case that falls outside the 1-mile radius in Wynwood.

The 500 feet that Frieden mentioned is about the size of one apartment. He didn't confirm Thursday if a specific residence or business is where the cases were found.

"That 1-mile radius gives you a buffer zone around that 500-square-foot area," Frieden said. "We encourage women all over the U.S. to protect themselves."

As of Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 15 locally transmitted Zika infections in Miami-Dade and Broward counties: 13 in Miami-Dade and two in Broward. Most of the cases stem from mosquito bites that occurred in and around Wynwood, health officials have said. The 15 cases are the first local Zika cases in the nation.

The CDC on Monday warned pregnant women not to travel to Wynwood, the first such travel warning by the federal agency against a neighborhood in the continental United States. Pregnant women are most at risk because if they get bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus, they can deliver babies with severe birth defects, including babies born with brains that are not fully developed.

Meanwhile, Scott was displeased that Congress has not reconvened in Washington to fund Zika prevention. Congress recessed in July for a seven-week break that will last into early September without adopting a Zika funding package, which has been under debate since February when President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding to help states combat the infectious disease.

"The president and Congress have to figure out how to work together," Scott said. "I have to work with my Legislature if I want to get anything done. This is a national, international issue and I think the federal government has failed us."

Scott did not acknowledge the funding issues that Miami-Dade mosquito control has faced, saying that "we have very successful mosquito control around the state."

"If you look at what we've done with dengue fever, chikungunya, we've stopped the local transmission of those," Scott said. "We're going to do the same thing with this. We have good mosquito control and good county health departments that are working well together."

Scott has pledged that Zika tests will be provided free for all pregnant women statewide. But since testing supplies are limited and not all the available tests are equally effective at detecting the virus, the explosion of demand has overwhelmed the public health agencies that Floridians are relying on for answers, said Ellen Schwartzbard, an OB/GYN at South Miami Hospital.

"I don't feel the Department of Health is prepared for this right now," she told the Miami Herald.

Miami Herald staff writer Daniel Chang contributed to this report.

.Fast facts

How to get tested

Gov. Rick Scott has pledged the state will provide free Zika virus screening for all pregnant women.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County announced Thursday that starting next week, it will provide tests from

7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at three locations: Clearwater Health Department, 310 N Myrtle Ave., Clearwater; Mid-County Health Department, 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo; and St. Petersburg Health Department, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg.

State Health Departments in Hillsborough and Pasco counties did not have information Thursday on where to get tested. The state Health Department in Hernando County said pregnant women interested in a virus screening can schedule an appointment at the Spring Hill or Brooksville locations by calling (352) 540-6800.

Trying to stop Zika's spread in South Florida 08/04/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2016 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: The unknown price tags in the mayor's race

    Editorials

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has been busy promoting all sorts initiatives in the months leading up to the Nov. 7 election, doubling down on his progressive agenda without spending much money or generating much controversy. But make no mistake, the cost will come due after the election. Without a change in …

    The mayor is determined to get artist Janet Echelman to create a sculpture for the new Pier. But the cost would be much higher than what is allocated. Above is Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here in Boston.
  2. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  3. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.
  4. Advocates for charter, public schools argue their cases at education forum

    K12

    TAMPA — Advocates of charter schools argued for diversity in education while supporters of traditional public schools charged that state funding is stacked against them during a forum Friday titled "Choices in Education."

    Schools such as Winthrop Charter School deserve greater public support, their operators say, because they offer a choice in education that is popular among parents. Public school advocates say charter and voucher schools represent a double standard in accountability and enrollment. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  5. Editorial: UF shows how to preserve free speech

    Editorials

    The University of Florida was forced to navigate a treacherous terrain of constitutional concerns and public safety this week, all in a glaring public spotlight. In the end, Thursday's appearance by Richard Spencer was a success — as much as an unwelcome visit from a notorious white nationalist can be. The …