MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) – MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Zika infections in Florida
The top Democrat in the Senate says Congress must return from its weekslong summer break to deal with the Zika virus, an unlikely scenario in light of the dysfunction that prevented lawmakers from agreeing on money to fight the mosquito-borne disease.
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement Friday that the transmission of Zika in Miami Beach was the most alarming development yet, and the threat to the country's health and economy has never been greater. He said the American people cannot afford to wait any longer for action.
President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. But lawmakers left Washington in mid-July for a seven-week recess without approving any of the money.
Abortion politics played a central role in the impasse.
Republicans angered Democrats by adding a provision to a $1.1 billion take-it-or-leave-it measure that would have blocked Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving money.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says officials will not be able to spray the South Beach area to prevent Zika as they have in other areas because of high-rise buildings and strong winds.
Miami-Dade County officials have been spraying pesticide from planes flying over Miami's Wynwood arts district since early this month, when Zika transmissions by mosquitoes were confirmed there.
Dr. Tom Frieden says planes can't fly low enough among Miami Beach's high-rises to spray pesticides that kill mosquitoes and their larvae. He says strong winds over the narrow island city also hinder such flights.
Frieden also says the large numbers of residents and visitors in the area will make it challenging to control the spread of Zika there.
Florida officials announced on Friday that they had identified South Beach as a second area of Zika transmission on the U.S. mainland.
U.S. health officials are warning pregnant women to avoid Miami Beach, where Florida officials say mosquitoes have spread the Zika virus to five people.
In a statement Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said pregnant women should avoid travel to the South Beach area, which has been identified as an infection zone.
The CDC said pregnant women also should continue to avoid travel to Miami's Wynwood arts district. That neighborhood was the first site on the U.S. mainland where health officials determined mosquitoes were transmitting Zika.
The CDC also said pregnant women and their partners may want to consider postponing nonessential travel to all of Miami-Dade County if they're concerned about potential exposure to the virus.
In the agency's statement, CDC Director Tom Frieden said it's "difficult to predict how long active transmission will continue."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says officials have identified a second area of Zika transmission on the U.S. mainland.
Scott told reporters Friday that five Zika infections have been linked to an area that encompasses most of tourist-friendly South Beach.
Florida Department of health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri says officials believe the cases were transmitted by mosquitoes.
Another infection zone was previously identified in Miami's Wynwood arts district.
Scott says two of the Miami Beach cases involved Miami-Dade County residents, and three involved tourists from New York, Texas and Taiwan.
Scott says the county has begun an aggressive mosquito-eradication plan in Miami Beach.
The city manager of Miami Beach has told local officials that two Zika cases are linked to the community.
In an email Thursday morning to the mayor and city commissioners, Jimmy Morales said his office had been in "constant communication" with Florida's Department of Health, and he had been informed of two local Zika cases.
Morales said one case involved a tourist who visited Miami Beach about two weeks ago, while the other involved a resident who works in the city. He did not say whether mosquito bites caused the infections.
The Miami Herald first reported the email.
In a statement late Thursday, Morales said Florida's Department of Health was investigating Zika cases in Miami Beach but no infections were confirmed.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott scheduled a news conference Friday in Miami about the Zika investigations.
A Miami Beach official says there's been no confirmation that mosquitoes have spread the Zika virus in the tourism-dependent city.
In a statement emailed late Thursday, City Manager Jimmy Morales said Florida's Department of Health is investigating Zika cases in Miami Beach, but none have been confirmed.
Morales said the city has been "proactively focused on the elimination of potential breeding sites for months." He said the city is working with Miami-Dade County on mosquito control efforts such as targeted pesticide spraying and cleaning up areas where the insects could breed.
In a separate statement Thursday, Florida health officials said they believe active Zika transmissions remain limited to a previously identified zone encompassing Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. However, the department also is investigating over six other infections outside that area.