White House Allocates Nearly $600 Million to Zika Fight
It's a portion of the $1.8 billion request made earlier this year
The White House announced Wednesday that it would allocate $589 million to make preparations for the fight against the Zika virus.
However, White House budget director Shaun Donovan described the move as only a “temporary fix,” saying that it was a mere bridge to the $1.8 billion request made earlier this year, which has yet to be approved by Congress.
The virus has been heading north from the Caribbean and Latin America as the weather warms, and with mosquito season approaching in the United States, vaccine development, mosquito control and disease testing could all be short-changed if further funding isn’t approved.
“We should not play with fire here,” Donovan told reporters on a conference call, according to Reuters.
Congress has said the White House should draw funds for the Zika fight from $2.7 billion set aside for public health projects aimed at the Ebola virus.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell explained that Zika was a threat that joins ebola but doesn’t supplant it in terms of prioritizing.
“We face two global health challenges, Ebola and Zika, and we don’t have an option to set one aside in the name of the other,” Burwell told reporters.
Burwell said there were already 672 confirmed cases of Zika infections in the continental United States and U.S. territories, including 64 pregnant women, and one confirmed case of Zika-related microcephaly in Hawaii.