Officials reduce Wynwood Zika zone; 1 case found outside zone

MIAMI (WSVN) - Officials reduced Zika zone in Wynwood, Thursday, by 10 blocks. They also said one case of Zika has been found outside of Wynwood in Miami-Dade.

Officials said they found no Zika transmissions in 10 blocks in the northwest area of Wynwood and have removed it from the warning zone. They did still warn all pregnant women to stay away from Wynwood.

Florida Governor Rick Scott met with local leaders and congressional members in Doral, Thursday, to discuss the recent spread of locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus that has impacted South Florida.

Scott, Florida Representative Frederica Wilson, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip, held a news conference, Thursday afternoon, to discuss, clarify and offer solutions that are already in motion in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

One of the solutions that was mentioned in the conference was put into full effect, early Thursday morning, where planes spread pesticides through the air to kill mosquitoes and larvae in Wynwood, where locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered, and throughout Southwest Miami-Dade, an area which may pose a new risk.

So far, a total of 15 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered, according to the CDC.

At a press conference in Washington D.C., later in the afternoon, President Barack Obama urged citizens to call their congressional representatives and press them to return from recess to fund Zika responses.

At around 10 a.m., Scott sat down with Florida Surgeon General Celeste Phillip, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in Wynwood.

“There is no information to suggest there’s risk anywhere else in Miami outside of this one mile area,” said Frieden. “In fact, the area were concerned about is 500 square feet, right in the middle of the one mile radius where there have been infections.”

Frieden said mosquitoes only fly 500 feet in their lifetime, so they hope they can stop the spread of the insect.

“It’s the first time in modern history we’ve issued a travel advisory in a part of the continental U.S.,” Frieden said. “But it’s a very specific neighborhood. It’s a one mile buffer. The challenge here is to make sure that we are working closely with the state and the county to do everything possible to stamp it out there by killing mosquitoes and stopping them from breeding.”

Thursday’s discussions are aimed at striking a balance with the public. Officials do not want to scare people and impact Florida tourism, but they do recognize the pressing situation.

“I have made it very clear to the doctor that we will follow their recommendations and make sure that we stop Zika right here in its track, right here in Wynwood,” Gimenez said.

Scott has been concerned about businesses in South Florida. “I’ve also had an opportunity to go to a variety of businesses down here,” said the governor. “We’ve got to continue to support these businesses because why? They have employees and those employees need their jobs.”

Scott said any women who want to be tested can receive a free Zika test from any health department. He added that they are ordering more Zika test kits to satisfy that demand.

Asked how he feels about how he feels about the travel advisory, Scott said, “I want everybody to brag about being here,” he said. “That’s why we have Visit Florida. We’re telling everybody this is a safe state. We have one square mile north of downtown that we think we might have locally transmitted Zika.”

Frieden said they understood the burden placed on Wynwood businesses by the advisory, but said pregnant women especially must stay away from the area.

“We wish we didn’t have to do it, but we have a duty to warn, we have an duty to inform people,” Frieden said.

Planes deployed two types of chemicals over Wynwood, Thursday, one that kills mosquitos and another that kill their larva. There were also 100 health department and CDC crews on the ground in the area to test mosquitoes and people.

Spraying was also done by ground further south, in Pinecrest.

The Florida Health Department was also in a Pinecrest neighborhood, Wednesday, asking for urine samples that would be tested. “I was glad ’cause I felt like we gotta stop this,” said Suzanne Calvo, who was visited by the health department. “If we don’t, it’s gonna be out of control.”

Miami-Dade County commissioner Audrey Edmonson made sure to raise awareness for the Zika virus by handing out mosquito repellant and brochures about Zika to business owners and tourists.

“I’m here to try to assure they are prepared,” said Edmonson. “You can have a lot of people, especially tourists, that come to this area, and they’re unaware that we even have the Zika virus.”

A group from Argentina said they didn’t buy repellant before visiting Wynwood. “We are not that worried, I guess,” said one man.

Regarding the case found outside Wynwood, Philip said they do not yet have enough information to make conclusions.

“So that is separate from the current one mile area, and we’ll go through the same process,” she said. “We will talk to a lot of people, get samples from that area before we have enough data to make any additional conclusions for that area.”

Down in Southwest Miami-Dade, residents of the Galloway Glen neighborhood also saw a number of health department vans in the area. Health department officials asked people who live in the area of Southwest 100th Street for urine samples.

“Super scary,” said Galloway Glen resident Heidi Rutland. “I have small kids. I mean, there’s no real knowing of what could happen.”

Health department officials may be testing the area for the case of Zika found outside Wynwood, although that hasn’t been confirmed.

In Broward County, with one active case of Zika, officials are being proactive by spraying pesticides through their streets.

School board leaders are also raising concerns for their students. “One single bottle cap of water can spawn 300 mosquitos,” said Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho.

Six public schools reportedly sit within a mile from the Zika zone, but schools are not being fumigated.

Officials are continuing to make families aware that the first day of school is approaching and to make sure they have their kids wear the proper clothing.

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