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Senator Bill Nelson: Zika A ‘Crisis’, $1.9B In Funding Needed

Sen. Bill Nelson. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Sen. Bill Nelson. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Federal lawmakers could fund $1.1 billion dollars to fight Zika virus, $800 million dollar less than what the Obama administration is asking for.

The partial funding plan hasn’t been finalized yet. But Florida Senator Bill Nelson has already come out against it.

“This is truly an emergency,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “I’m calling on our colleagues to approve the president’s $1.9 billion in emergency funding request now, in the immediate future, not later.”

The savings would come by cutting $250 million dollars in Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico … and not replenishing nearly $600 million dollars in Ebola funding repurposed to fight Zika.

Check here for a breakdown of how the money would be spent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters separately he believes funding will eventually happen. Sen. Marco Rubio has said in the past that he supports more funding to fight Zika.

ZIka is a mild virus in adults but blocks brain development in babies. Florida has 91 cases of ZIka virus, the most of any state.

Dr. Peter Hotez with Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine called Zika the virus from hell, saying there’s no room for error.

“We’ve got the mix,” Hotez said. “We’ve got the people, we’ve got the poverty, we’ve got the crowding, and we’ve got the Aedes Aegypti mosquito right here.”

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »