Members Of Congress Failed To Acknowledge Threat Of Zika In U.S.
Wall Street Journal: Zika Funding: What If Political Gridlock Isn’t Why Congress Hasn’t Acted?
Ron Klain, external adviser to the Skoll Global Threats Fund
“How did something that should have been uncontroversial — relatively modest funding to fight a new infectious disease in the U.S. — become so hard that Congress left Washington for the summer (mosquito season) without passing legislation to combat the Zika virus? … The obvious answer — that our gridlocked political system cannot complete even the simplest task — does not fully explain things. … The largest factor appears to be lawmakers’ failure to appreciate the risk Zika poses. … Zika is easily underestimated because symptoms are not obvious, and the most grave health consequence … occur months in the future. … If this were not enough to spur action, three developments in the past week suggest new cause for alarm. Transmission of the disease by mosquitoes appears to be occurring in Florida. … An explosion in cases in Puerto Rico — the first U.S. area to be hit by Zika — shows how rapidly Zika can escalate if left unchecked. … Evidence is mounting that Zika can be sexually transmitted, not merely transferred by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. … If we take aggressive steps now to fight Zika, we may never find out just how bad it might have been. … We do not know how many cases of Zika will happen on U.S. shores. But members of Congress who believe that action is not needed because Zika is not serious or a threat to all parts of our nation are making a miscalculation that stands to have consequences for years to come” (7/25).