As Zika virus transmissions become more rampant in the United States, the CDC shared some unfortunate news about how they (probably) won’t be able to help those who become infected in the near future. At a press conference this past Tuesday, CDC’s director Dr. Thomas Frieden told reporters, “the cupboard is bare.” “Basically, we are out of money and we need Congress to act,” he shared.
Despite the severity of this news, our congressmen and women have been on summer vacation for seven weeks. They return back to work next Tuesday but until they do, Federal agencies are not allowed to spend or receive new money unless Congress gives them the green light.
Since Dr. Frieden revealed the lack of money the CDC has to help treat the virus, three new cases were reported in Florida. Out of the $222 million that was allocated for Zika, Dr. Frieden states $200 million has already been spent. In addition to that, Dr. Frieden noted that $197.3 million has been spent in total because the virus became an epidemic in Puerto Rico and the CDC had to treat travelers and pregnant women who were infected with Zika on the U.S. mainland.
This past February, President Obama asked Congress to approve the $1.9 billion emergency fund for the virus but the majority Republican-controlled government body rejected that proposal and instead sought accountability from the CDC and National Institutes of Health to use leftover money from the Ebola and other life-threatening diseases budget, NBC News reports. Republicans proposed for the CDC’s Zika virus fund to be financed only if Planned Parenthood would receive less funding. The Democrats shot that proposal down, immediately.
If the CDC doesn’t receive the necessary funding it needs, Gulf states will become more susceptible to the virus and Dr. Frieden has already noted that more infants are becoming infected with the disease. So far 16 infants have been born with Zika and the numbers from Puerto Rico are said to be record-breaking.