CT lawmaker asking Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

CT lawmaker asking Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika

(CDC photo) (CDC photo)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal pushes Congress for emergency action to combat Zika. (WFSB photo) Sen. Richard Blumenthal pushes Congress for emergency action to combat Zika. (WFSB photo)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged that the new cases of Zika in Florida are an example of why he thinks emergency funding is needed nationwide to the address concerns over the virus.

Blumenthal met with Connecticut health department leaders on Monday morning to discuss eradication of the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

"I call on Republican Congressional leadership to bring us back into session so that we can immediately address this public health crisis," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Congress breaking for a historic summer recess without doing its job to protect Americans from Zika is incomprehensible and unconscionable."

This comes as cases of Zika were likely contracted on the continental United States, specifically in Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said there were 14 new infections, bringing the total in the state to 14. He said the infections were likely caused by local mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said expectant mothers should get tested for the virus if they have visited the neighborhood since mid-June.

Travel is also underway to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ahead of the Olympics.

"This is a once in a lifetime for me," Roman Tinyszian, who is heading to Rio, said.  

Tinyszian is heading to Rio on Tuesday to referee table tennis games. He said he's gotten the standard warnings from the International Table Tennis Federation and during his time in Brazil, he'll mainly stay in his hotel.

"The only time I really need to worry about it, is going from the hotel to the bus," Tinyszian said. 

While  Tinyszian does not seem concerned, Blumenthal said he is worried about the American athletes. 

"These games could be, unfortunately, a catalyst for a full scale public health crisis in Connecticut," Blumenthal said. 

Blumenthal said he met with East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc and Public Health Supervisor Mike O'Connell at Martin Park in East Hartford to look at local efforts to eliminate the insects around 10:30 a.m.

"Mosquitos don't know the difference between red states and blue states," Blumenthal said. "There should be nothing partisan about fighting this epidemic!"

A truck from Innovative Mosquito Management, East Hartford's mosquito contractor, demonstrated the company's various techniques it uses to control the insect population, according to Blumenthal.

"They only affect mosquito larvae and black fly larvae," O'Connell said. 

The senator said Republican Congressional leadership adjourned the House and Senate for the recess on July 14 without approving any funding to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

"President Obama requested emergency funding to response to this crisis more than five months ago," Blumenthal said. "Congress's failure to take action before now is reprehensible and irresponsible. This public health emergency requires Congress to come back now." 

While Tinyszian is going to the heart of Zika country, he said he'll be safe and will hope for the best.

"Common sense. Watch what you do, do what they recommend in the updates they've given us and you should be fine," Tinyszian said. 

Overall, state experts said since we've had a dry summer, the mosquito population is down slightly compared to other years, but the need to be vigilant remains. 

The CDC is warning pregnant women to avoid the "Zika transmission" area in one section of Miami.

The advisory comes after Florida health officials announced on Monday that they suspect the number of locally transmitted Zika cases has risen to 14.

"This is something that we always pay attention to we want to give our customers as much knowledge as we can, about whatever the situation is," said Amy Parmenter, of AAA.

She said the travel alert only impacts a low percentage of tourists in a small area, and there has not been a rash of canceled vacations.

"I think it's been on folks radar for a while but the cause for concern, at least with the people that we're dealing with, it has been relatively minimal," Parmenter said.

The CDC does not expect the virus to become widespread in the United States, and Parmenter said she sees no reason to panic but agents are happy to help any travelers that may have questions.

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