Scott Confirms 5 Cases Of Zika In Miami Beach, CDC Issues Travel Advisory For Miami-Dade County
Florida Governor Rick Scott confirmed that Zika has spread to Miami Beach, after at least 5 people -two residents and three tourists- contracted the virus from mosquitos in a 1.5 mile area between 8th and 28th streets.
Shortly after the governor's announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new travel advisory for pregnant women that encompass all of Miami-Dade County.
“If you’re concerned about Zika,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said, “you may consider postponing all non-essential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.”
Miami Beach is the second zone of "active transmission" of Zika within Miami-Dade County. Wynwood has also seen at least 30 cases of the disease spread through mosquitoes.
Authorities have intensified efforts to control the mosquito population around Wynwood, using aerial spray and targeting standing water.
The Florida Department of Health cleared 14 blocks of Wynwood as Zika-free but CDC's advisory for downtown Miami still remains in effect.
News about possible locally-transmitted Zika cases in Miami Beach had been circulating since Thursday, when WLRN's news partner the Miami Herald published a story quoting an email from City Manager Jimmy Morales indicating at least two local cases of Zika.
When asked why neither him nor the DOH confirmed the cases until today, governor Scott said, "We want to make sure every citizen of the state knows what's going on. I want accurate information. I want timely information."
Scott also denied that he is putting economic interests ahead of public health by delaying confirmation -and thus action- con local Zika cases.
"We have a number of investigations going within the county," said Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip, who traveled to Miami this Friday with governor Scott. "We are still in the process of determining when the first case of Zika appeared in Miami Beach".
As for Wynwood, Phillip underlined that the Florida DOH has cleared at least three areas although the CDC still has an advisory in place.
"Our language says we have cleared the area, but that does not pertain to the CDC travel advisory," said Philip. "Our testing has not revealed that there are any active cases, and we think it's important to let people know that there are areas where we have not seen ongoing transmission.”
Scott was noncommittal about having the State release its own travel advisory.
"Let's put it in perspective, we have 20.6 million people living in our State, we probably have 65 million tourists already coming to our state this year," Scott said.
"We have two small areas, one less than a mile, and we've been able to reduce the footprint. That's out of a state that takes 15 hours to drive from the Keys to Pensacola."
After the conference Scott visited Wynwood, which has been deemed an impacted Zika zone or "hot spot" since late July.
There, he ate a local bakery and cafe and had quick private sit-downs with several business officials in the area.
The governor has also reached out to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, as well as the DOH to work with hotels and restaurants on Zika education.
According to the DOH, a total of 36 patients in Miami-Dade County have acquired the virus by mosquito bite. The DOH urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, and for residents and visitors to use repellant while outdoors.
Businesses in Miami-Dade County that may be impacted by the Zika virus, are encouraged by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to complete a survey as part of a relief program for businesses.
David Woodward, a journalist from London who is vacationing in Miami Beach, says he can understand the impact the Zika virus may have on a business.
"Otherwise international tourists would be scared about coming in. And you can understand from a business perspective they don't want to scare people,” Woodward said. “But really, you know, you need to inform the public."