Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Co-Chairs FL Delegation Meeting on Zika Virus

Jun 14, 2016
Press Release
CDC Director Tom Frieden To Discuss Federal Efforts

Florida Has 175 Cases of Deadly Disease

WASHINGTON — The co-chairs of Florida’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-FL, today announced a bipartisan delegation meeting on the Zika virus outbreak in Florida on Wednesday, June 15 at 8:30 a.m. in Room B-318 of Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, DC.

The nation’s top disease-fighting expert, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be among the four panelists.

“With nearly a quarter of the nation’s cases, Florida is ground zero for Zika,” Buchanan said. “This deadly disease demands a serious and swift response by Congress. I look forward to discussing with my colleagues and panelists the best approach to contain this outbreak.” 

Sarasota-based Dr. Vilma Vega, an infectious disease specialist, will also share testimony with the delegation.

“As the threat of Zika exposure increases, it’s critical that we have an opportunity to present information to Florida’s congressional delegation,” Vega said. “This hearing will outline the need for a powerful and quick response from Congress.”

Florida has 175 reported cases of Zika virus, according to the Florida Department of Health. The CDC reported 691 travel-related cases across the country.

Buchanan was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.

Buchanan noted that it has been five months – almost half a year – since the first handful of Zika virus cases were detected in Florida. Congressional leaders are currently deliberating an emergency funding package to contain and eradicate the deadly disease.

“The foot dragging needs to end now,” Buchanan said. “Congress must approve a serious funding package immediately and deliver federal resources to our communities to protect pregnant women.”

The Zika virus can cause a birth defect called microcephaly, which leaves infants with abnormally small heads and severe brain damage. The CDC is monitoring over 370 pregnant women with confirmed or suspected Zika virus infections in the United States and its territories.

Buchanan’s announcement of the meeting comes one day after he hosted a roundtable in Sarasota, Fla. with national and local health experts about efforts to fight the Zika virus.

WHO:

  • U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL.
  • U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-FL.
  • Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. 
  • Dr. Mario Stevensen, chief of division of infectious diseases, University of Miami.
  • Dr. Vilma Vega, infectious disease specialist.
  • Mr. T. Wayne Gayle, executive director, Lee County Mosquito and Hyacinth Control Districts.

WHAT: Bipartisan Congressional Florida Delegation Meeting on the Zika virus outbreak in Florida.

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

WHERE: Room B-318, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.