MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KMSP) - The Centers for Disease control is now monitoring nearly 300 pregnant women in the U.S. and U.S. territories who have tested positive for the Zika virus after traveling. Many health officials believe it’s a matter of time until Zika is contracted in southern states.
Friday, Senator Al Franken and Senator Amy Klobuchar met with the Minnesota Department of Health doctors and researchers from the University of Minnesota for a round table discussion. Together, they outlined how badly the needs are for a back log of Zika testing. This includes the need for surveillance, tracking and ongoing infrastructure to be better prepared when any sort of public health issue comes up.
“These things don't happen by schedule. We had Ebola a couple of years ago,” said Senator Franken.
This week, Franken and Klobuchar helped pass $1.1 billion in emergency funding to help the Zika response. Meanwhile President Obama wants Congress to pass $1.9 billion in funding, separate from Ebola funding, so scientists can get started on a vaccine.
“This is not something where we can build a wall to prevent. Mosquitoes don't go through customs," said President Obama.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, who is a Minnesota-based international leader on emergency preparedness for infectious diseases urges much more to be done.
"This is unprecedented in my 40 years in public health,” says Osterholm. “When we have an emerging crisis, which we do here, I've never seen government at a federal state, or local level. I think it's the height of government incompetency. To try and make a political game out of this situation is unfortunate."