Miami Beach residents, leaders voice concerns over aerial spraying

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - While the Centers for Disease Control has deemed pesticide being sprayed as safe, some Miami Beach residents are not convinced.

Residents gathered inside of Miami Beach City Hall, Wednesday morning, to voice their concerns of Thursday’s planned aerial spraying to eradicate Zika from the area. After hearing from many angry Miami Beach residents, the county has decided to delay the aerial spray to Friday morning. They said that the extra day will give residents time to learn more about the pesticides and also gives families the option to leave Miami Beach if they are still concerned.

According to officials, the spraying will take place at 5 a.m. in order to diminish human contact, before children are outside and on their way to school. Despite the changing of the time of the spraying, residents voiced their concerns at the Miami Beach commission meeting.

“I can get a postcard in the mail of who’s up for re-election, but I can’t get a postcard in the mail that you’re gonna spray poison on me?” said one upset Miami Beach resident.

Another resident said the chemicals concern him more than Zika. “As concerned as we might be for the Zika virus, we’re really more concerned about the chemical Naled,” he said.

The CDC said the mosquito population has grown in Miami, and local cases of transmission are still increasing. In its daily Zika update, the Florida Department of Health revealed, Wednesday, that there are now 56 non-travel-related cases of Zika in the state.

“I don’t want to do this,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez. “I would hate to be the person to allow Zika to roam rampant in Miami-Dade County and affect hundreds of pregnant women and their young fetuses, and their young babies.”

At the Miami Beach commission meeting, leaders posed questions for Giménez. “Who employed by the City of Miami Beach, or what resident of the City of Miami Beach, did you ask permission of?” asked one commissioner.

Giménez replied, “When the decision was made yesterday to start the aerial spraying, in the room were representatives of the City of Miami Beach.”

The back and forth continued, with a city leader asking another question. “If I told you right now, and the commission told you, we don’t want this, does that change your decision?”

“If the commission doesn’t want this,” said Giménez, “I need to go back to my attorney, the county attorney, and say, ‘Do I have the duty and the right to do this?'”

The county mayor has said he made the decision to go forth with the aerial spraying and if it is not done, he is concerned the governor will intervene. “I think the governor is going to do exactly what I’m doing, which is, following the recommendations of the CDC,” Giménez said.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has said he believes there are major communication issues between his city and the governor’s office. According to Levine, he did not find out about any aerial spraying efforts until he read it in a press release earlier in the week.

Miami Beach-elected leaders are in disagreement and even awkwardly argued during the emergency meeting. Officials in Washington, D.C. are also in disagreement over a billion dollar Zika bill, which failed to pass the Senate Tuesday.

As of now, four aerial sprays are planned, beginning Friday. Spraying will happen once again on Sunday, and are reported to last at least 30 minutes.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the latest Zika zone, a 1.5 square mile area in Miami Beach, on Aug. 19. The first U.S. hot zone for locally transmitted cases of Zika was identified in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in late July.

The mosquito-borne illness is especially dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to serious birth defects. The CDC has issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid the Zika hot Zones in Miami-Dade County.

If a mosquito carrying Zika does bite, it can take up to two weeks to cause symptoms like:

  • fever
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • joint pain
  • conjunctivitis, which causes red, irritated eyes

The State Surgeon General has activated a 24-hour Zika hotline in Florida to answer questions and concerns. That number is 855-622-6735.

Pregnant women can receive a free test at the Health District Center, located at 1350 NW 14th St in Miami. For more information, call (305)-324-2400.

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