MIAMI (WSVN) - Additional funds are being distributed in South Florida as community leaders fight for funds to battle the Zika virus.
Officials gathered for a round table discussion in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood Monday afternoon to discuss several topics, including funding, communication and prevention.
Florida Governor Rick Scott led the meeting and announced that the Florida Department of Health will allocate $5 million in additional state funding to Miami-Dade County for Zika preparedness and control. On Tuesday, Scott is expected to be in the Tampa area for round table discussions.
Additional mosquito controlling, spraying and community outreach will also be some factors that will contribute to the $5 million. The governor pointed out during the meeting that tens of millions of dollars have already been allocated by the state.
The discussion took place on a day when others were calling for federal funding, like Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, considering that 1.5 miles of the area is now the second Zika zone in Miami-Dade County.
As leaders met, students took instruction on the first day at school, Monday. “Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants. Apply the insect repellent and then leave the rest up to us,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
At Miami International Airport, informational signs have been posted warning travelers coming to and leaving from Miami-Dade that they could be exposed to the virus and not know it when traveling to a tropical country.
Earlier on Monday, Scott spoke with 7News. “You want good information. People who live here want good information. Tourists want good information. That’s what we’re gonna do,” he said. “It’s gonna be timely.”
Levine said he wants information in a more timely manner. “Number one, I personally invite you, the next time you come to Miami, so let’s hold this on Miami Beach now,” he said, addressing the governor. “You know, the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room, which is communication. We just gotta have that information.”
Scott reassured South Florida leaders. “Whenever information comes back from the governor’s office, so the Department of Health will be timely, and it will be accurate,” he said.
With 37 non-travel cases so far, the overwhelming concern, along with protecting pregnant women, is the effect on local tourism and the entertainment-driven economies of Wynwood and Miami Beach.
A family from New York took a stroll down Miami Beach, but not without a screen that covered their child’s stroller. “We heard, in South Beach, there’s a lot of Zika here,” said the father.
Bill Talbert with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau said that they can’t get rid of Zika alone. “We’ve been working every single day doing everything we can to eradicate it, but it needs federal assistance,” he said.
Other local leaders spoke on the need for federal assistance, indicating they would like the $1.9 billion initially suggested by President Barack Obama to go toward Zika prevention.
They also suggested finding different ways to fight off Zika, depending on the targeted area. Attacking Zika in the Wynwood neighborhood, they said, needs a different approach than handling the virus in Miami Beach.
Wednesday morning, a representative from the Florida Department of Health is scheduled to appear at the Miami Beach Convention Center to offer tips on how best to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.
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