Florida governor: We’re still waiting for Zika money

Florida governor: We’re still waiting for Zika money
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is accusing federal health officials of holding up money to fight Zika as the state combats its latest outbreak of the virus.

“It has been two weeks since federal funding to fight Zika was approved by Congress and signed by President Obama. However, Florida has not yet received a dime,” Scott said in a statement Thursday.

“We don’t need bureaucratic timelines — we need funding now,” Scott said.

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Scott said his state needs the money even faster than expected after the Florida health department confirmed another outbreak of the Zika virus in Miami-Dade County on Thursday.

The new transmission zone is 1 square mile. A total of five cases have been reported there: two women and three men, according to the department.

That county — which has already seen two other outbreaks — is the only county in a U.S. state where the virus is actively spreading. Other U.S. territories, particularly Puerto Rico, have already seen widespread transmission for months.

The Florida governor, a longtime critic of the Obama administration, has sharply scrutinized the White House and Congress for its delay in passing a funding bill to combat the Zika virus.

Congress approved $1.1 billion to fight the virus in a government spending bill late last month after a long fight over legislation. But nearly three weeks after its passage, Scott said the money has yet to reach his state.   

Federal health officials have been calling for Congress to approve the money since February, warning that the appropriations process typically involves a delay in doling out the funds. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately provide a comment.

The virus — which is known to cause birth defects — prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take the unprecedented step of warning pregnant women not to travel to Zika-affected zones in the U.S.

More than 1,000 cases of Zika have been reported in Florida, with the vast majority related to travel in other Zika-affected countries. A total of 155 people have contracted the virus while in Florida, mostly from mosquitoes, according to the state’s health data.

About 100 of those cases are in pregnant women.