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Scott authorizes $26 million in emergency funding for Zika

Thursday, June 23, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Thursday, June 23, 2016     

By Lloyd Dunkelberger , Herald-Tribune

Scott authorizes $26 million in emergency funding for Zika

TALLAHASSEE With a continuing deadlock on federal funding for the Zika virus, Gov. Rick Scott today used his emergency executive authority to provide $26.2 million in state funding to prepare and prevent the spread of the virus in Florida.

Here is the statement from his office:

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that he will use his emergency executive authority to allocate $26.2 million in state funds for Zika preparedness, prevention and response in Florida. This decision follows the federal government's failure to take immediate action to approve funding for Zika preparedness by June 1st, the start of hurricane season. The $26.2 million from the state's General Revenue fund will only be released as needed and will be spent solely for the purpose of Zika preparedness, including:

Mosquito surveillance and abatement;

Training for mosquito control technicians;

Enhanced laboratory capacity; and The purchase of CDC Zika Prevention Kits.

Governor Scott has directed Surgeon General Dr. Philip to oversee the process of allocating these state funds which will go directly to the efforts of Florida's county health departments, local mosquito districts and laboratories based on their needs to combat Zika.

Governor Scott said, "On June 1st, I called on President Obama's administration to immediately provide items to prepare for the possible spread of the Zika virus. This included requests made by more than 25 counties, cities and mosquito districts across Florida. Today, we have more than 40 entities with requests that are in excess of $19 million. It is clear that we can no longer afford to wait on the federal government. That is why I am authorizing $26.2 million from our state's General Revenue fund to be allocated solely for Zika preparedness, prevention and response in Florida.

"We are in the middle of hot, rainy weather which is when mosquitoes are most prevalent. It is clear that allocating this funding is necessary if we are going to stay ahead of the spread of this virus. I am profoundly disappointed that Washington does not share in our commitment and has continued to play politics with the health and safety of our families. Time and time again, we have stepped up and funded issues when the federal government failed to show up. I will not let Washington's inaction jeopardize the health, safety and wellbeing of Floridians.

"This is a national issue that every state will have to battle. While our first priority is to protect our state, we are also trusted to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Every dollar of this funding will go directly to preventing the spread of Zika in Florida, and each decision on its allocation will be held to the highest standards of accountability.

"While all of Florida's Zika cases are still travel-related, we know that the best way to protect ourselves during a hurricane is to have a good game plan before the storm comes. Protecting our state from Zika is no different. There is no doubt that we fall further and further behind fighting the spread of this virus with every day that passes if we are not fully prepared. That is why we are taking immediate action today to protect our families and visitors."

Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam said, "I thank Governor Scott and the Department of Health for their leadership in responding to the threat of Zika. We must do everything we can to protect Floridians and visitors from Zika, and this much-needed funding will go a long way to support mosquito control efforts around the state."

The federal government has only allocated $153,844 for epidemiology and lab support, $500,000 for seven counties for mosquito control and $40,856 in lab supplies and personnel. If additional federal funds are eventually allocated to the state, it will be used to reimburse any state General Revenue already spent.

Florida now has more than 200 travel-related cases of Zika across 23 counties. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zika a "public health emergency of international concern." The Public Health Emergency has been amended to clarify the emergency executive authority.

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