Gov. Scott Tours Wynwood, Discuss Zika Battle

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Another busy day in the battle against Zika in South Florida.

A King Air Beechcraft carrying insecticide to combat the Zika virus sprayed the Wynwood area Thursday.  The spraying was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled due to wet weather.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said it appears that spraying was successful.

“The mosquitoes in the traps all died which means it was effective and so we will follow up with a larvascide mission in a day or two,” he said.

Health officials, however, are not sure the insecticides are working

Of the 15 locally transmitted cases tied to the Wynwood area in Miami, two people have tested positive for the Zika virus in Broward County. One is a resident in Southwest Ranches and there are now two more suspected non-travel related Zika cases in Fort Lauderdale.

The Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Thomas Frieden, traveled to Miami to meet with health and government officials on the situation. Emergency response teams from the CDC are helping Florida authorities investigate the outbreak, collect samples and control mosquitoes. So far no mosquitoes in Miami or elsewhere in Florida have tested positive for Zika.

Related: EPA: Insecticide Used To Fight Zika Is Safe

Gov. Rick Scott spent the morning walking through Wynwood. He’s encouraged by local mosquito control efforts.

“Everybody needs to work together to help resolve this issue. Fortunately it’s been three days now since we’ve had a new case,” said Scott during a tour through Wynwood. “I think everybody is taking this seriously, they’re getting rid of standing water, they’re covering up and wearing bug repellent, so I think we are making progress.”

Some business owners say sales have dipped by 30 percent.

Thursday night at Gramps Bar, two sell out comedy shows.

“We take spray brakes and go outside and spray up!” owner Adam Gersten said.

Gersten is not sure why his place is packed in the middle of the Zika scare, but it is.

“Anybody who is making the choice to come out they have taken the precautions that are right for them,” he said.

Scott said he’s been talking to business owners and trying to reassure them.

“I want these businesses to continue to prosper. We’re trying to stay ahead of this by giving people information, we are blessed that it doesn’t look like we are going to have another case today, which is good. Our county and state health departments, those trying to eradicate the mosquitoes, they’re doing a good job. So my job is to come down here and talk to people to see if there is something else we can do.”

The governor also spoke with the head of the CDC and met with Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen before holding a press conference Thursday afternoon.

He’s addressing health concerns and reassuring nervous tourists that it’s OK to travel here.

“This is a safe state. Let’s think about this, we have one-square mile, one-square mile north of downtown that we think we might have locally transmitted Zika, we’re not seeing new cases,” he said.

Also out and about was Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson who handed out mosquito repellent wipes and Zike information.

“We’re giving out these swabs to the businesses so they can hand them out to tourists as well as their customers to ensure they don’t get bitten by mosquitoes,” said Edmonson.

Some tourists in the area were thankful.

“We have just come from Argentina, so we didn’t know there’s an insect thing here,” said one visitor. “So we’re gonna try it.”

“My thoughts now is just to help eradicate these mosquitoes and get this virus out of Miami-Dade County,” said Edmonson.

The CDC issued an advisory that pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant should not travel to the area of Miami – since the virus has been linked to severe birth defects like microcephaly which leaves babies with abnormally small heads and developmental problems.

Couples who have been there recently are advised to put off having children for at least two months and expectant mothers should get tested for the virus if they have visited the neighborhood since mid-June.

The travel warning covers an area of about one square mile in Wynwood to the east of Interstate 95 and south of I-195.

The governor’s frustration grows with the U.S. Congress who went on summer vacation without approving money to help in the fight.

“We knew this was going to happen. We knew hurricane season was coming, we knew hurricane season was coming. And they knew they were going on recess,” he said. “So the president and Congress have got to figure out how to work together.”

And he’s not alone in that frustration. The South Florida congressional delegation is speaking as one, urging Congress to get moving.

“It is a public health emergency. It is also an economic threat we depend heavily on tourist and trade here and we don’t want people to be scared of coming here,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-District 26.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-District 23, said, “We need to have both short term and long term funding that really can only be achieved by Congress doing its job.”

Late Wednesday evening, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen shared a letter signed by every Florida member of the U.S. House urging the CDC to reconsider their funding plan.

The letter read, in part:

“As you know, today the CDC announced that the State of Florida will receive $720,000 in new funding for detecting and monitoring microcephaly and other adverse birth outcomes as a result of Zika virus infection out of a total of $16 million that is being divided between 40 states and territories. This amounts to a paltry 4.5% of funding made available, despite the fact that almost half of all confirmed non-travel cases of the disease in the continental United States have now been linked to mosquito transmission in Florida.”

The state’s health department, in partnership with the Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade, will be conducting free Zika testing on Thursday and Friday for people who live or work in Wynwood.

Click here for more on Wynwood Zika testing.

The testing will be done from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Emilio Lopez Pavilion at 3601 Federal Highway. Anyone wishing to be tested must bring proof that they live or work in the impacted area. Children must be over 5 years old.

Click here for more information on the Zika virus or here for more Zika-related stories.

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