State Capital Briefs (Evening Edition): Thursday, September 22
The News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday the state will provide $25 million to help seek a vaccine against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. With 874 reported cases of Zika in Florida, the money brings to $61.2 million the amount Scott has authorized for combatting the virus, which can cause severe birth defects. "We must focus on finding a vaccine and enhancing our Zika testing capabilities to further protect pregnant women and their developing babies," Scott said in a release. Overall, the state has recorded 682 travel-related cases, which involve people getting infected elsewhere and bringing Zika into the state. Also, the state has had 92 locally transmitted cases, 90 cases involving pregnant women and 10 cases involving out-of-state residents. Included in those numbers, the state Department of Health on Thursday reported five new travel-related cases, including one involving a pregnant woman. Two additional locally transmitted cases were reported in Miami-Dade County. The latest funding from Scott is slated to go toward research into finding a vaccine and a more cost-effective way to test for the disease. The Department of Health will allocate the money. Scott's announcement came as Congress continues to be unable to agree on a federal funding package to help fight Zika. In February, President Barack Obama called on Congress to providing $1.9 billion in funding for the issue.