Good news for Wynwood residents and businesses: State and local officials said Monday the Zika virus is no longer being locally transmitted in the area.
Forty-five days -- three mosquito incubation periods -- have passed without reports of new local infections, and according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, that means local transmission has likely ended.
"This is what we hoped would happen," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a press conference with state and local officials at Wynwood Walls. "We had an issue, everyone took it seriously and resolved it."
The CDC did not significantly change its guidance for travel to the Wynwood area. In a press release issued Monday, the agency upgraded Wynwood's status to a "cautionary travel recommendation" area, like the rest of Miami-Dade County. It says pregnant women who travel to Wynwood and other portions of Miami-Dade should continue to take precautions against mosquito bites and may want to consider postponing nonessential travel.
Scott encouraged Florida residents and visitors to return to Wynwood.
"Everybody should be coming back here and enjoy themselves," Scott said. "We need to come back to Wynwood. We need to come to restaurants. We need to come to galleries. We need to do it as quickly as possible. So many of these businesses have been impacted."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said that aerial spraying is over in Wynwood for the time being. He also addressed questions about the Zika zone in Miami Beach, telling reporters aerial spraying there will not be expanded even though the zone was extended Friday evening to stretch from Eighth Street to 63rd Street.
"I follow the recommendations of the experts," Giménez said. "We will not do additional aerial spraying outside of the one-and-a-half-square-mile area unless the CDC and the state of Florida Department of Health and the surgeon general recommend that’s what we need to do."
The CDC is still advising pregnant women to avoid travel to Miami Beach. Another round of aerial spraying -- which some Miami Beach residents strongly oppose, despite assurances that the pesticide is safe in the extremely low concentrations used during spraying -- is scheduled there for Sunday.
Also at the press conference, Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Celeste Philip, addressed questions about ongoing delays for Zika test results. As WLRN has reported, there have been hundreds of pregnant women waiting to get their Zika test results back—sometimes weeks after the tests have been processed by the state.
“This volume of lab testing is quite unusual,” said Philip. “It happens only when we are in these kinds of situations. Probably the last time was during H1N1, but for flu there are rapid tests.”
She did not say why it’s taking so long for women to get their results once the tests are completed.