MIAMI – Gov. Rick Scott said Monday the state is sending $5 million to Miami-Dade County to help in the ongoing effort to stem an outbreak of the Zika virus.
As part of $26.2 million in emergency state funding authorized by Scott, the governor said Miami-Dade would receive the money for additional mosquito-control staff, mosquito spraying and community outreach.
The state Department of Health has identified parts of two Miami-Dade communities, Miami Beach and the Wynwood neighborhood, where locally transmitted cases of Zika are occurring.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women to avoid the areas since the virus can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, which damages the brains of babies.
Scott, who met with Miami-Dade officials on Monday, said aggressive efforts by state and local officials have helped reduce the Wynwood zone where infections are occurring, and he said a similar response is taking place in Miami Beach.
Scott said the additional funding will help Miami-Dade "protect its families, visitors and businesses," noting the state has been sending Zika aid to the community since June.
"And if it becomes clear that more resources are needed, we will not hesitate," Scott said. "Combatting the Zika virus is something we must do together. I will continue to work with local officials to ensure our cities, counties and state are partners in our fight against this virus."
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told Scott that local officials appreciated the state support. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine encouraged Scott, who returned to the Wynwood area on Monday, to visit Miami Beach to show his support for the community.
"Your presence in Miami Beach would go a long way," he told Scott.
Levine, who had earlier complained about communication with the state, said city and county officials need to get "timely, accurate information as fast as possible" on Zika developments.
"We're going to make sure what we put out is information that we can stand behind," Scott told the mayor.
The Department of Health said on its website Monday that the state has had 37 locally transmitted cases of Zika. It also has had 494 travel-related infections, which stem from people bringing the virus into the state, and 69 cases involving pregnant women.