Sen. Charles Schumer yesterday pushed the House to add funds to the battle against the Zika virus, warning that the disease poses a risk to New Yorkers and underfunding the effort would also take away funds from Ebola research efforts.
Last week, the Senate voted to add $1.1 billion in emergency funding for Zika, which would also restore about $200 million in Ebola funding that was previously cut. But this was less than the $1.9 billion in Zika funding sought by President Obama.
For its part, the House approved $622 million in funding.
“Zika has the potential to be far more widespread than Ebola. And while it’s not quite as deadly a disease, it has all kinds of bad things happening,” Schumer said, standing with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in Madison Square Park. “Unfortunately, the Congress — particularly the House of Representatives — is twiddling its thumbs as Zika is coming upon us.”
There have been about 544 confirmed travel-associated cases of Zika in the 50 states as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 114 have been reported in New York, the highest number of any single state.
Another 836 confirmed Zika cases have been reported in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico (where 122 pregnant women have been infected) and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As Memorial Day approaches, Gillibrand said, many families are rethinking their holiday plans, worried about the disease.
“If we want to contain the outbreak, then we need to use every tool we have to fight it,” she said. “We can’t wait until mosquitoes in New York are spreading Zika before we address this problem. The House needs to take action now to protect our families and stop the spread of this virus.”