Huffman urges Congress to provide solutions for the Zika Virus
We haven’t talked about it much here on the North Coast but according to the World Health Organization nearly four million people could be infected with the Zika virus by the end of this year; with the epicenter being Puerto Rico. The territory is in major debt and on the verge of an economic collapse. Local 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman says the two issues go hand-in-hand, and with up to 5% of the Puerto Rican population coming into the Continental U.S. each year, Congress needs to provide a solution.
Since Puerto Rico is a territory and not a state they don’t have much leeway when it comes to negotiations. However Huffman says they should be given the authority to negotiate debt relief with hedge funds and Wall Street creditors, and that large enough appropriations to fight Zika should be arranged immediately.
A new map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that many states have been reported with both types of Zika-carrying mosquitoes. And last week the CDC said currently 234 pregnant women in the Continental U.S. are affected with the virus.
“Public health experts are warning that this is a much bigger deal even that the very scary Ebola crisis that we were all very concerned about a little over a year ago. Zika could actually spread further and faster,” said Huffman. “and the first of the Zika babies, the ones with microcephaly are starting to be born now in this country. Each one that's born has a lifetime healthcare cost of $10 to $20 million. So you begin to see the severity of this challenge and the need for urgent action.”
Last month the Senate approved $1.1 billion and the House approved $622 million, for Zika-mosquito extermination efforts, testing and vaccine research. However they want to reallocate funds from other programs, including funds previously dedicated to fighting Ebola.