Congress passes $1.1B to fight Zika as cases increase

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – With Zika cases climbing to 921 in Florida, Congress passed a spending bill, Wednesday night that included $1.1 billion dollars to combat the mosquito-borne disease.  

Florida Senator Bill Nelson calls it a ‘small victory’ in the fight against the Zika virus.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who along with fellow Florida Sen. Bill Nelson supported the bill, said the measure contains $15 million to directly help states, like Florida, with cases of locally transmitted Zika and has $60 million that could help Puerto Rico.

"This anti-Zika package rightfully prioritizes Americans in Florida and Puerto Rico, and I'm encouraged my calls for action have been answered and that real assistance from the federal government is finally on its way," Rubio said.

The bill is now awaiting President Obama’s approval.

Senator Nelson has been fighting for this money for months and had praise for the Senate for passing this. Even Governor Rick Scott joined in.

He sent this tweet, “Glad Congress finally passed Zika funding. Hope @potus signs fast and sends resources to Florida.”

The vote was 72 to 26 to get the money Nelson says is needed to find a vaccine for the Zika virus.
It will be used to for mosquito control efforts, which is equally important because Nelson said this has become “quite uncomfortable.”

In latest numbers released by the Florida Department of Health shows there are six new non-travel related cases in our state- bringing the total to 921 overall. Florida also had eight new travel-related Zika cases, for a total of 700 travel-related cases. In such cases, people have been infected elsewhere and brought the virus into the state.
“In my own state of Florida, we have been severely hit. Now, with 91 of our fellow citizens that are pregnant with the virus, and we say Godspeed to them that they will not have the baby with birth defects. But now, at least, the Calvary has arrived and we have the money to now proceed with trying to stamp out the Zika virus,” said Senator Nelson.  He ended with a thank you to the president.

Zika cases continue to climb in Florida.

Health officials also said there are 92 cases involving pregnant women, 13 cases involving non-Florida residents and one "undetermined" case, all of which are classified separately from the travel-related and locally transmitted cases.