MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Dozens of protesters lined up in front of Miami Beach city hall as local leaders talked about a chemical causing debate in the Zika fight – Naled.
Mosquito control crews were set to spray Naled over Miami Beach, just like they did in Wynwood, starting Thursday but growing concerns from residents and local leaders prompted a delay.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement on the matter, saying in part:
“During today’s meeting with the City of Miami Beach, City leadership, and residents asked for more time to prepare and inform Miami Beach residents and visitors about our aerial spraying plan. In consultation with health experts and the City of Miami Beach, we have agreed to delay aerial spraying with adulticide by one day. We will begin spraying on Friday around 5:00 a.m, weather permitting, and will spray this Sunday, and the following two weekends. This schedule will minimize disruption to our school children and families.”
Earlier, residents and local officials sat down for an informational meeting – a meeting wrought with major debate on Naled. Crowds at the meeting inside city hall were passionate Wednesday morning as Mayor Gimenez spoke about the scheduled spray meant to control the mosquito population – a culprit in the spread of the virus.
“The city of Miami Beach offered a reasonable solution to spray natural pesticide and it was overridden by the state,” said Miami Beach resident Michael Capponi.
Also there, were state health officials, CDC representatives, and Naled experts. The residents did not want to hear from any of them during the meeting. Protesters carrying signs demanded that independent experts speak about Naled.
“This chemical was ran out of Puerto Rico. It’s been banned in 22 European Unions and it’s the wrong message to be sent especially when you’re dealing with tourism here in Miami,” said business owner Chad Allison.
Despite expert advice that the amount of Naled to be sprayed is too low to be harmful, many worry it’s dangerous and poses health risks. In this case, it will be spread offshore, then waft over land.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is not happy about it; however, he says, based on what the experts tell him, it must be done. Over the weekend, the number of mosquitos caught in traps went up – meaning the population is growing.
“It came from the strong recommendation, from what we’ve been told, by the CDC, as well as the surgeon general, the Department of Agriculture and that decision, truly is solely made by the governor of the state of Florida,” said Levine on Tuesday.
Levine said he learned from the state on Tuesday through a news release that Florida Governor Rick Scott was mandating the spraying of Naled on the beach using its helicopters and its contractors – a decision that Mayor Gimenez is also supporting.
“I have to do my duty and I know that every once in a while, I have to make a very difficult decision that is not going to be fully supported by the people,” said Mayor Gimenez.
He says he is trying to be consistent and follow expert recommendations.
“If the commission doesn’t want this, then I need to go back to my attorney and say do I have the duty and right to do this. I need to be consistent in the application of how we’re going to fight mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County,” said Gimenez. “I cannot choose one community over another community.”
The recommendations came after mosquitoes in Miami Beach tested positive for the Zika virus last week, prompting stepped up spraying efforts in the city’s transmission zone. Despite that, the mosquito population grew, raising more concern about the spread of the virus that has been linked to severe birth defects in children.
For Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, the link to birth defects is a big issue for him.
“I have an unborn child that I am taking care of and I’m worried about Zika,” said Arriola. “Can I look at myself in the mirror if something were to happen to my child or any of your children? The answer to that is no.”
As for how to stop the scheduled spraying Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco said, “The only way this gets stopped is one of two ways – either the county reconsiders or we’re able to get an injunction. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”
Grieco told CBS4’s Silva Harapetian, he had an attorney already lined up in case they had to file for an injunction.
As of Wednesday, there were 56 non-travel related cases of the virus in Florida and 596 travel-related cases. Eighty pregnant women in the state have been infected with Zika.
So far, the local transmission zones are the following:
- Wynwood Area – NW 22nd St. at the South, NE 2nd Ave to NE 23rd St. at the east; NW 3rd Ave to the west; and NE 36th St to the north.
- Miami Beach Area – 28th Street to the north, 8th Street to the south, intercoastal water to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.