MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They say that ‘no news is good news.’
That cliche could not be any more true for Miami Beach when it comes to the Zika virus.
On Friday, Governor Rick Scott declared Florida Zika free now that the last Zika hot zone in the state, on South Beach from 8th to 28th streets, had been lifted.
“I am proud to announce that the remaining Miami Beach area has been cleared of any ongoing active transmission of the Zika virus. This means that Florida does not have any identified areas with active Zika transmission, which is incredible news for the Miami Beach community and our entire state,” said Scott.
The active zone, or ‘hot zone’, designation was lifted because the area had gong 45 days without a confirmed case.
The South Beach zone is the fourth, and final, Zika hot zone to be lifted in the county after officials declared an all out war on the spread of virus and the mosquitoes that carry it.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said the good news doesn’t mean the fight against Zika is over.
“We just have to be diligent because this is a fact of life that we have to live with and we want to make sure that we don’t have the same situation next summer,” Mayor Levine said.
One strategy the city will employ is to keep their mosquito populations low.
“Not allow the colonies to grow so we don’t have to get to that point where someone has to tell us that we have to have Naled sprayings. Our intention is not to use that again and use other measures that will prevent having to do that,” said City Manager Jimmy Morales.
While the threat is over, Zika definitely left its mark on Miami Beach, stinging businesses.
“There’s no question that it depressed our business, but we feel like we got to the other side of it,” said Jonathan Plutzik, chairman of the Betsy Hotel. “It’s interesting that Art Basel was last week, cause leading in to it there was concern that there may be some adverse impact, but it was a great week compared to last year, and we hadn’t yet had the governor’s announcement, so people made their normal plans. But there’s no question that some people stayed away during this period and that it hurt some of the businesses in our community.”
On Thursday, the state’s Department of Health announced that there were no new locally acquired cases. However, there are eight new travel-related cases; four in Orange, one in Broward, one in Miami-Dade, one in Hillsborough and one in Osceola counties.
“Visitors will continue to bring it here so the message is stay vigilant and keep using repellent,” said state Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip.
To date, Florida has had 980 travel related cases, 249 locally acquired cases and 185 cases of lab results showing Zika infections in pregnant women.