MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was in town Friday and met with government leaders on their efforts to contain the spread of the Zika virus.READ MORE: FBI: Body Found Near Search Area For Missing Florida Woman Gabby Petito Consistent With Her Description
On Friday, a crew from the University of Florida worked in the hot zone where most of the locally transmitted cases of Zika have been found.
They placed traps in certain areas to catch what’s flying around, and checked other spots for mosquito activity.
Another confirmed case of locally transmitted Zika has surfaced in Wynwood, the arts district north of downtown.
It brings the number of non-travel Zika cases to 16.
Sen. Nelson says that number is likely higher because most of the time people infected with Zika don’t know they have it.
“If you multiply what we know of by four times you can see that it is likely 28,000 people in the U.S. and its territories are already infected,” said Nelson.
Nelson says Zika is not just a South Florida problem, or a Florida problem, but a nationwide problem.
He led a group of 41 senators who called on congressional leaders to immediately reconvene both the House and Senate to pass an emergency spending bill to fight the virus.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell warned lawmakers on Wednesday that her Zika budget is running out quickly. Without more money soon, she said, the “nation’s ability to effectively respond to Zika will be impaired.”
Nelson says Congress does not have to interrupt its break to pass the bill. Republicans quickly dismissed his proposal.
Nelson said in a letter Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate could pass a bill through a procedure known as a pro forma session that requires the presence of only a few senators.READ MORE: Massive Search Underway For Brian Laundrie, Fiancé Of Missing Florida Woman Gabby Petito
But even Nelson is not optimistic that will happen, and he took a jab at McConnell, predicting the Senate would move swiftly if a transmitted Zika case was reported in Kentucky.
Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman, said Nelson’s proposal was not plausible unless Democrats were willing to end their filibuster of a Zika bill the House has passed.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama sought to pressure congressional Republicans over the issue, encouraging voters to “call your members of Congress and tell them to do their job.”
“The money that we need to fight Zika is rapidly running out. The situation is getting critical,” Obama said at a news conference.
Last month, lawmakers left Washington for a seven-week recess without approving any of the $1.9 billion that Obama requested in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus.
Abortion politics played a central role in the impasse.
Republicans angered Democrats by adding a provision to a $1.1 billion take-it-or-leave-it measure that would have blocked Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving money.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, writing in USA Today on Thursday, did not mention that provision in blaming Democrats for blocking the legislation. Their obstruction, according to Ryan, R-Wis., is “a blatant ploy in an election year.”
McConnell has signaled he is in no rush to return. Writing in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday, he criticized Democrats for balking at passing the bill. He said they’ll get another chance after Labor Day when Congress is back in session.
After the latest round of ground and aerial spraying Thursday over the Wynwood area, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said it appears their efforts have been 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.MDPD Seeking Driver Who Hit, Killed Man Riding Mini Scooter In Florida City
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