Senator Chuck Schumer is urging Congress to pass a $1.9 billion emergency funding bill to combat Zika virus after health officials reported the number of confirmed cases in New York City has almost tripled since May.
According to the latest health department figures, there have been 233 cases of the disease in New York City — up from 78 at the beginning of May. Of those, 39 Zika patients are in Brooklyn. New York City received the lion’s share of cases statewide. Only 77 reports of Zika occurred in other areas of the state, according to Schumer’s office.
Schumer said these numbers prove New Yorkers are still traveling to countries where Zika virus is more prevalent and bringing the disease back home. With Congress about to break for the summer, Schumer said it is critical the emergency funding bill pass this week.
“Simply put, anyone repellent to this emergency funding plan isn’t serious about beating Zika. When it comes to fighting this epidemic, a stitch in time will save nine – so I am urging my colleagues to pass this bill and make sure emergency funding is delivered before it is too late,” the senator said in a statement.
New York City is already taking measures to bring down the number of mosquitos who transmit the disease. The Health Department has sprayed pesticides throughout the city in areas where mosquitos breed. Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park have been sprayed 10 times since May 12, records show.
The emergency funding being considered by Congress provides even more resources to fight the disease, which has been linked to Microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with their heads abnormally small. The funds could be used for mosquito control measures as well as finding a vaccine for the virus, It would also boost resources for family planning and contraceptives — the babies with Microcephaly are born to mothers who contracted the disease.
Zika is passed between people by mosquitos. It has also been found to spread through sexual contact, according to health officials. The virus causes fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis in those who have been infected.