SARASOTA, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott is stepping up the state's campaign to prepare for, prevent, and contain potential outbreaks of the Zika Virus.
The governor was in Sarasota Monday where he spoke with FOX 13 at length about the state's Zika prevention efforts and the frustrating lack of support from the federal government.
Question: Governor, tell us how frustrated are you with Congress right now.
Governor Scott: "Look, the president and Congress have got to come together. They have not been a good partner. We funded at the state level $26.2 million. I had the authority, emergency authority, to be able to do that. But the federal government needs to be a partner. On Thursday, the head of the CDC came down to Miami and I walked that area in the morning had breakfast with Zach the baker and Wynwood Cafe. Tried to make sure all the business continues to grow there. I have asked for 10,000 more Zika preparedness kits for the pregnant women in our state. We have offered everybody that is pregnant the opportunity to go to their county health department for an assessment and a test. I want to make sure everybody in our state stays safe. I want to make sure everybody that is coming to our state as a visitors knows that this is a safe state."
Question: Are you concerned it will spread from that one area [in South Florida] where it has been contained, and how will you react if it does?
Governor Scott: "We are going to inform everybody. We have very good mosquito control efforts all around the state. We have very good county health departments. We have a great state health department. I am going to continue to allocate the state resources that are necessary. Still frustrated the federal government is not being a good partner. This is a national-international issue. They should be a partner with regard to dealing with this. But we are going to do the right thing. We are going to inform people. We are going to do the right thing on mosquito control. We are going to make sure we test and make sure everybody knows what is going on."
Question: "It seems like you are willing to spend as much money as it takes?" Governor Scott: "Absolutely. I will allocate. I have the opportunity to allocate the state dollars. We have a wonderful budget now. We have billions of dollars in reserves. I will spend the money it takes to keep every citizen in our state safe."
Question: "You have been holding Zika round-table meetings across the state. What have you learned?"
Governor Scott: "Here is the goal of it: I will be doing one today in Saint John's County. What your goal is to make sure everybody is working together. The county health departments; whoever is doing mosquito control; the elected officials -- everyone is working together and the state efforts are all coordinated. That is one thing. And then if somebody has an idea that we can share in another area. We are making sure we have good education efforts. Make sure everybody understands what their responsibility: no standing water, wear protective gear, use bug repellent. When you do all that, that is why we are doing as well as we are. In the Wynwood area in Miami we are able to reduce the area that we said we had a concern about in the beginning. We reduced it by 10 blocks on Friday. We are hoping to continue to do that."
Question: If it comes here [to the Tampa Bay Area] what will we see? How will the state government step in to help us?
Governor Scott: "The process we will do is, we will test to see if somebody has Zika -- most likely it would start with a travel related case. And then we will look at their background to see did you travel? Where you around somebody that traveled? Then we will see if there is any local transmission. If there is we will let everybody know so they can be informed and make their own decisions."
Question: Are you concerned it will affect tourism at all?
Governor Scott: "The most important thing -- as the governor -- I need to make sure everybody understands what is going on. That's what we do. But also make sure everyone understands the state prepares. We had our first travel related case in February. Immediately called an emergency declaration. Started preparing our county health departments and our state health department. Asking for support from the Centers for Disease Control, asking for support from Congress, asking for support from the president. We've got great emergency management teams across the state. This state gets ready for things such as a hurricane and so you know if you are gonna come here you will be prepared and you are going to be informed."