TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Governor Rick Scott is back in Tampa Bay area after spending several days in Washington, DC asking for more money to fight the Zika virus.
“In our state we started having (Zika) cases back in February. I’ve been asking for Congress to be a partner since then. I’ve asked for the federal government to do funding. They haven’t done it,” Scott said Tuesday as he left a meeting.
This comes as the state reports 70 locally transmitted cases of the mosquito-borne virus. The total number of the Zika cases, including travel related is up to 790.
Scott talked to News Channel 8 Thursday after returning from his trip. “We’re just the tip of the spear. Is it important to Florida? Yeah. But, it’s important to this country. It’s a national and international issue. We need something passed now,” he said.
Scott has allocated more than $26 million from the state to combat Zika, but the governor says that’s not enough. Governor Scott says he’d spend the money partly on 10,000 more Zika prevention kits for pregnant women. The state already offers pregnant women free assessment at county health departments.
Hillsborough County Public Works held a mosquito control training workshop Thursday as part of their ongoing efforts. The event included code enforcement officers from Hillsborough County, Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The goal of the workshop is to train municipal code officers to identify and remove mosquito breeding sites in the community.
“It just gives more eyes and ears for us to be able to combat mosquitoes,”Hillsborough County Public Works Director, John Lyons said. “They’re out there on a daily basis with our public.”
In Polk County, Mosquito Control is seeing their education efforts pay off. Although their mosquito population is down nearly half compared to years prior, calls from citizens have skyrocketed.
“It shows they are getting the message,” Jeff Spence, director of Polk County’s Parks and Natural Resources Division said. “The populations are much lower than what we typically see, by half. But it’s a heightened concern over the Zika issue,” Spence said. “In August of 2014 we got 91 calls. In August of 2016 we got 336. That is where a lot of time and money go, that’s one of the big challenges.”
In Pinellas County “Partners in Zika Prevention” roundtable will be held on September 20 in Tarpon Springs. The public can attend the event at 9 a.m. at the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College (600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs).
Pinellas County Mosquito Control staff and area experts will discuss best practices for combating the mosquito-borne illness and share ongoing efforts with municipal partners and residents.