Washington, DC - May 22, 2016 - As the Memorial Day Holiday weekend approaches and New York families head outdoors, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today joined forces and called on the U.S. House of Representatives to get serious about combatting the spread of Zika Virus, which has already been contracted by over 1,300 Americans including over 100 here in New York and thousands more in Latin America.
Schumer and Gillibrand also noted that local health department officials have already been forced to draw down on funds allocated for other public health preparation and emergencies to instead fund Zika prevention programs. The two senators say this is unacceptable and are urging swift action by the House to address Zika head on.
“With so many women and families across the country looking for action, it is critical that members of Congress immediately follow the Senate’s swift action and approve at least $1.1 billion in emergency Zika funding as soon as possible so that we can help stem the spread of this awful virus,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “It’s high time for the House of Representatives to get serious about beating Zika and these federal dollars are the best way to shield the U.S. When it comes to fighting this epidemic, a stitch in time will save nine, and so, I will do everything in my power to make sure emergency funding is signed, sealed and delivered to New York.”
“Temperatures are rising, New Yorkers are heading outside, and mosquitoes are multiplying, but our doctors and scientists still don’t have the resources they need to prevent and protect us against the rapidly spreading Zika virus,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
“We can’t wait until mosquitoes in New York are spreading Zika to address this problem. We need to take action now to protect families and stop the spread of Zika. The Senate approved a $1.1 billion funding bill last week so the CDC, NIH and other federal agencies can speed efforts on the development of a vaccine and start taking immediate steps to stop Zika. But the House has its own plan that would rob millions from critical Ebola prevention funding and instead put it toward Zika. This is unacceptable; Congress needs to come together and pass a compromise plan that fully funds Zika prevention and response efforts and send it to the president’s desk so we get to work to stop this spreading epidemic and protect our communities before it’s too late.”
Last week the Senate approved $1.1 billion in federal funding to give the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of State and other federal entities the resources necessary to help prevent the spread of Zika to the United States and develop a vaccine to protect against the virus. However, that funding is still being held up by the United State House of Representatives which has passed its own bill that provides no new funds for Zika and would take $352 million already allocated to help prevent the spread of Ebola and use it for Zika instead.
Schumer and Gillibrand are urging Congress to compromise and pass a plan that fully funds the Zika prevention and response programs before it’s too late to combat the problem and stop Zika from spreading to the United States.
Already there have been 1,380 confirmed cases of Zika in the United States and U.S. territories, including 279 pregnant women. In New York, there have been at least 114 confirmed cases. The funds would also include support for Puerto Rico, where women and families are especially threatened. So far, there have been 806 confirmed cases in Puerto Rico, including 122 pregnant women.