Mosquito season is still in full swing and the Zika virus is slowly but surely making its way across this great country, but the CDC is almost out of money to fight the virus. The news was announced hours before three new cases were reported in Florida, so that’s great, too.
“Basically, we are out of money and we need Congress to act,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC, told reporters in Washington D.C. Tuesday. “The cupboard is bare.”
Congress has been on summer break for seven weeks and since Federal agencies can’t spend any new money unless Congress has appropriated it, the CDC has been forced to shift things around. In his weekly radio address, Obama addressed the issue, noting that Zika is an actual threat and not just something the Democrats made up.
“Republicans in Congress should treat Zika like the threat that it is and make this their first order of business when they come back to Washington after Labor Day. That means working in a bipartisan way to fully fund our Zika response.”
Frieden said in his remarks to the press that money earmarked for other issues including “emergency preparedness in the United States, Ebola…immunization programs, HIV, monitoring disease” has been directed towards halting the spread of Zika. The CDC has given Florida everything they’ve asked for, but now that the money’s almost run out, if the virus spreads to another state in the same way it has in Florida, the CDC will be powerless to help.
In February, Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to cover Zika-related expenses like mosquito control, accelerating vaccines and improving diagnoses – all tactics that would attempt to halt any further spread of this disease in its tracks. Naturally, Republican leaders have shut down the requests, claiming that any allocation of funds would require more accountability as to where the money is going and suggesting that funds be diverted to the CDC by picking up the pocket change leftover from fighting Ebola and other diseases. In a cunning twist, Republicans countered with a bill that included some of the funding requested, but also defunded Planned Parenthood – they love to fucking do that! – and naturally, it was shot down by the Democrats.
The result of this pettiness is where we are now: almost out of money to fight a virus that spreads via winged insects that are common in 26 states. Currently, Zika has infected 46 in Florida. On August 26, a man in Maryland contracted Zika abroad, showed no symptoms and passed the virus along to his partner while having unprotected sex.