Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit the Borinquen Medical Center in Miami where, according to her aides, she will call for Congress to come back in session early and pass legislation to provide emergency funding for the Zika virus.
Prior to this month, known Zika cases in the U.S. were found in patients who had recently visited the Caribbean or Latin America. Last week, the Florida Department of Health pinpointed one neighborhood in Miami, Wynwood, where the virus is being transmitted by mosquitos. Gov. Rick Scott announced on Monday that the Florida Department of Health is investigating a potential outbreak in Palm Beach County.
President Barack Obama requested a $1.9 billion emergency spending request in February to tackle the virus. But Congress remained in a stalemate and went on a seven-week recess without coming to an agreement on the funding.
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent Zika — which primarily transmits from mosquitoes but can also spread via sex — or cure for it, but the National Institutes of Health is in its second phase of a clinical trial for a vaccine. Budgetary concerns leaves the future of the phase 2 trial murky, as the secretary of Health and Human Services warned that existing resources will be depleted by the end of the month.
Clinton, who supports the bill, has previously addressed the congressional gridlock in a Sun Sentinel op-ed, where she wrote that Congress “needs to act quickly to provide federal emergency funding.”
Clinton continued: “Zika is real. It’s dangerous. And if we’re serious about stopping this epidemic in its tracks, then there’s no time to waste.”