Twenty fours after Florida health officials issued a public health emergency over Zika virus, Governor Rick Scott and State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong gave an update on Florida’s preparedness efforts relating to the Zika virus at the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County. Governor Scott called on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take action to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the possible spread of the Zika virus.
Following news today that there are three new cases of Zika in Florida, one of which is a new case in Broward County, Governor Scott is asking Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to amend the declaration of public health emergency to include Broward County. The other new cases are in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties. All cases in Florida are still travel-related and do not include any pregnant women.
Governor Scott asked:
- The CDC to provide at least 1,000 Zika antibody tests so the state can test individuals, especially pregnant women and new mothers, who have traveled to affected areas and had symptoms of Zika. The antibody test allows the state to see if individuals ever had the Zika virus. Florida currently has the capacity to test only 475 people.
- The CDC to conduct a conference call within the next two weeks to help train Florida hospital workers – especially OBGYN doctors and those who work with pregnant women – on how Zika is spread, its symptoms, treatments and proper precautions.
Governor Scott said, “With over 20 million residents and 100 million tourists, we must stay ahead of the possible spread of the Zika virus and take immediate action to ensure Florida is prepared. That’s why I am calling on the CDC to supply at least 1,000 antibody test kits, of which we currently have only 475, and also conduct a conference call with our hospital workers within the next two weeks so they are prepared to properly treat patients and protect public health. While Florida does have 448 kits to test active cases (different than antibody testing kits), I am authorizing the Department of Health to immediately purchase 4,000 more to ensure our state has the resources to quickly respond.”
Governor Scott is also asking the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to evaluate how much funding they have available for mosquito control. The Department has been appropriated $1.6 million in the last year for mosquito control and Governor Scott is requesting to know how much is still available.