TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Saying he was “profoundly disappointed” with the ongoing federal stalemate over the Zika virus, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday ordered the state to spend millions in an effort to stop its potential spread.
Scott used his emergency powers to authorize spending up to $26.2 million on everything from killing mosquitoes, training mosquito technicians and purchasing Zika prevention kits.
The Republican governor has been calling on the federal government for weeks to approve money to fight the Zika virus, which can cause grave birth defects and can be transmitted by mosquitoes and sexual contact. The U.S. House this week approved a $1.1 billion measure. But President Barack Obama is threatening to veto the legislation, saying it provides too little money and contains too many partisan provisions.
“We are in the middle of hot, rainy weather which is when mosquitoes are most prevalent,” Scott said in a statement. “It is clear that allocating this funding is necessary if we are going to stay ahead of the spread of this virus. I am profoundly disappointed that Washington does not share in our commitment and has continued to play politics with the health and safety of our families.”
Florida currently has more than 200 cases of Zika virus, including 40 pregnant women. All of the cases involve residents infected outside the country, but Scott has predicted that it would be a “disaster” if mosquitoes in the state started transmitting the disease.
The Scott administration says that so far the federal government has only allocated $153,844 for epidemiology and lab support, $500,000 for seven counties for mosquito control and $40,856 in lab supplies and personnel.
Scott said that more than 40 counties, cities and mosquito control districts have asked for $19 million in assistance. He has declared a state of emergency in 23 counties because of the virus, a move that allows Scott to bypass the Florida Legislature and take money from the state’s main bank account.
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