MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Health hit the ground running, Saturday, as officials criss-crossed the streets of Miami Beach in an effort to eradicate mosquitoes in the second zone in Miami-Dade County where, they said, the Zika virus is being spread.
Health Department officials went door-to-door as they handed out fliers and checked for standing water, one day after Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed five new cases of the Zika virus were contracted in that 1.5 square mile area. “We’re very careful. Our Department of Health did a very good job with our investigations,” he said.
Of the five new cases, two of them are Florida residents. The others were visitors from New York, Texas and Taiwan.
Speaking to CNN on Saturday, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine discussed the newly named active transmission area, which includes the city’s most iconic areas.
Levine also calling on Scott to improve communication with local leaders. The mayor said he found out about the new Zika cases along with everyone else on Friday. “We just hope the governor will stop playing politics,” he told a CNN reporter. “This is a very serious issue. I’m the mayor; I need the information.”
The second hot zone stretches from the ocean to the Intracoastal, and from Eighth Street all the way up to 28th Street. “We cannot downplay this,” said Levine. “We must focus on this. We must eradicate this.”
The news is not sitting well with local residents and tourists on the popular Lincoln Road Mall. “It’s scary. I’ve been staying in a lot,” said Miami Beach resident Rula Alfaris.
Alfaris said, when the first hot zone was announced in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, she did her best to avoid the area. “I was really staying away from Wynwood for a reason,” she said, “but what I’ve been doing is, I’ve been using a lot of repellent, just trying to protect myself.”
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging pregnant women and their partners to not only avoid the areas where the virus is being spread by mosquitoes, but simply to stay out of the county entirely, if possible.
The mosquito-borne illness has been linked to serious birth defects like microcephaly.
Aldaris said this is a very difficult situation. “It’s kind of impossible, especially with the heat, and then, of course, we all want to be on the beach,” she said. “It’s just — it’s terrible.”
It remains unclear what kind of financial impact Miami Beach businesses will sustain. Tourism generates about $24 billion a year to the city.
A 24/7 Miami Beach Public Works hotline has been set up for residents to report standing water that has been there for over 48 hours. The phone number is 305-673-7625.
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