Tampa homeless given Zika kits

- With health experts predicting Florida becoming a front line of defense against the Zika virus, an organization in Tampa announced plans Monday to help homeless people prepare.

Metropolitan Ministries is handing out to homeless people 150 Zika kits, which include insect repellent, mosquito nets to keep them away and tablets to kill larvae in standing water.

"It's very frightening because you don't know how it's going to affect the kids in the long run," said Velma King, who is among Hillsborough County's 1,800 homeless people.

After receiving a Zika kit, she said, "I'm just blessed that I have gotten the kit and that I haven't gotten exposed to it."

In Florida, there have been more than 200 cases of Zika, which can cause birth defects. They're all travel-related.  Forty of the cases have involved pregnant women.

Some of the country's top health officials, however, have said it's only a matter of time before mosquitoes in Florida become carriers of the virus.

President Obama has called on Congress to pass $1.9 billion dollars in funding to fight the virus, but the talks in the Senate have been at a standstill, with a vote coming up on Tuesday.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has decided not to wait for federal lawmakers to act.

"It's frustrating the Federal Government has not shown up with their money," the governor said Monday. "The Feds are playing politics and not putting up their money, so last week. I took 26-point-two million dollars in the state budget to allocate out to make sure that we're prepared."

In the meantime, groups like Metropolitan Ministries are also taking matters into their own hands. Leaders of the organization expect to need more than 150 Zika kits and are taking donations of supplies or money.

 

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