Gov. Rick Scott lifts final Zika zone in Miami-Dade County

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott has officially declared Miami-Dade County free of active Zika transmission zones, Friday morning.

Scott lifted the fourth and final Zika zone in South Beach, Friday, after more than 45 days passed with no new cases of Zika reported in the area. The newly cleared area covers about 1.5 square miles, between Eighth and 28th streets.

“The South Beach area now does not have any local transmissions of Zika, and that’s a very good day for our state,” said Scott. “What that means is the state has no local transmission of Zika, so we’re going to continue to welcome all the tourists to come down here.”

The public announcement took place at 10 a.m., outside of the Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive. Scott was joined by tourism officials to make the announcement.

In Miami Beach, businesses and tourism were negatively impacted by the Zika warning in the area. However, they are already hopeful for a comeback.

This year’s Art Basel marked a bounce back for the area. “We just completed a very successful Art Basel as a community, and now, turning the corner into what we characterize as high season,” said Jonathan Plutzick, owner of The Betsy Hotel.

“Miami Beach attracts millions of people each year with its beautiful beaches, world-class hotels, vibrant restaurants, shops and events, and lifting this zone sends a message across the world that Miami Beach remains a top tourist destination,” said Scott.

While some Miami Beach residents didn’t let the fear of Zika keep them from the beach while the Zika zone was in place, they are now relieved to hear it has been lifted. “I live here, this is our life,” said Miami Beach resident Shana Goldwasser. “You know, we’re not going to like run away.”

However, others aren’t so optimistic.

“I don’t think it ends because they say it ends,” said Miami Beach resident Eric Weiss. “I mean, there could still be a mosquito that has it, but it’s comforting.”

While the fourth and final zone has been cleared, Florida’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Celeste Phillip, said they are staying vigilant.

“We will continue to see travelers bringing Zika infections into our state,” said Phillip, “so we must remain on alert and continue all of the protective efforts that we’ve been doing.”

The efforts so far have cost the county alone $22 million to date. They have received $12 million from the state.

“We worked hard this year to get the federal funding,” said Scott. “1.1 billion dollars in federal funding, that’s more than two months ago, when we got a little over $7 million.”

South Beach was the last of three other neighboring Zika infection zones to be cleared.

The CDC said although Miami Beach is no longer considered an active Zika transmission zone, they are designating it as a cautionary zone. They advise residents and visitors to continue taking all the precautions as they normally would.

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