Gov. Rick Scott talks Zika preparedness, wildfires, potential Senate run

Scott visits Jacksonville for roundtable with Duval DOH before rainy season

By David Benfield - Web producer , Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday joined "The Morning Show" to talk about a Zika preparedness roundtable discussion that he hosted in Jacksonville, the raging Florida wildfires and a potential 2018 U.S. Senate run. 
 
Scott hosted a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning at the Duval Florida Department of Health with community leaders before the rainy season, when the mosquito population is at its highest in Florida.  
 
"Florida has only had two isolated cases of local Zika transmission this year, and there are not currently any identified areas with active Zika transmission, which is good news," Scott said after a March 27 discussion in Miami. "However, it is crucial that we continue to work together to remain vigilant and take precautions to stay ahead of this virus."

Florida reported 284 locally transmitted cases of the virus in 2016 and another 1,099 cases classified as "travel-related," meaning that people were infected elsewhere and brought the disease into the state, according to Department of Health numbers. 

Scott told News4Jax that state and local officials must continue to inform the public about the health risks that the Zika virus poses and how to protect themselves and their families. Pregnant women can also go to the health department to get tested for free. 

Scott said residents can do their part by staying informed, removing any standing water around their homes and wearing bug repellent while they are outdoors. 

"The message today was all about preparation, protection and prevention. The dry conditions that we’ve had lately has really helped put a lid on Zika, but don’t let your guard down," Scott said. "As we approach those summer months and as we get a little bit more rain, you need to get into the habit now of walking around your yard at least once a week and checking for standing water. Things that you might not even think about, including sprinklers and toys like Frisbees, can all collect water. Even planters like this one right here that has collected water. Just a tablespoon of water is enough for those mosquitoes. You need to be extra vigilant, especially during those dusk and dawn hours, and make sure you’re also wearing bug repellent when you’re outdoors."

The city of Jacksonville is planning a tire buy-back event during the first week of May to remove any possibility of water buildup. The details have not yet been finalized. 

Travelers are asked to be careful as well. When taking a trip to another country, people should make sure to protect themselves from mosquitoes when they're there and for at least 21 days when they get back.

Click here to learn more about the Zika virus.

Dry conditions fuel wildfires

Recent dry conditions have continued to feed wildfires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres across the state of Florida. The fires forced Scott to issue a state of emergency. 

"The state of emergency really made sure we have all assets available," Scott said

Scott praised the hundreds of firefighters across the state who have battled to save lives and property threatened by the fires. 

Scott said residents need to be diligent and watch for things that can catch fire. People should also take extra precautions with outdoor fires and check with local officials before starting fires. 

"We're really dry, so we have wildfires every day," Scott said.

Potential Senate run

Shortly after the general election, Scott confirmed that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, calling it “an option I have.”

President Donald Trump announced his support for Scott in January and suggested that he would help him raise money for his campaign.

Scott said that if he were to win a Senate seat, one of his major focuses would be job creation in the state. 

Scott said Argentinean President Mauricio Macri is working to grow his county's economy. Scott believes that Florida's 15 ports could benefit from working with Macri administration. Florida currently does a little over $4 billion in trade with Argentina every year. 

“As democracy grows in South America, the trade should happen for Florida,” Scott said. 

Scott said he has been eyeing a Senate run for over a year, but added that he remains focused on his job as governor. 

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