Three Zika zones down. One more to go. At a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Rick Scott announced a one-square mile area in Miami’s Little River district had been cleared of the birth-defect-causing virus.
“I am proud to announce that the Little River area has been cleared of any ongoing active transmission of the Zika virus,” Scott told reporters gathered at St. Mary Cathedral School at 7485 Northwest Second Avenue. “This great news comes as Miami is welcoming millions of visitors for Art Basel.”
Ten days ago, the governor declared a three-mile area in Miami Beach between 28th and 63rd streets Zika-free. In mid-September, state officials cleared the first-declared Zika zone, a 1.5 square mile area in Miami that included Wynwood, Midtown and the Design District.
Scott said the state’s health department believes that the only active transmissions are isolated to a 1.5-square-mile area in Miami Beach south of 28th Street to Eighth Street. “I hope that local officials will consider every available resource to ensure aggressive mosquito control measures are being taken to lift this final Zika zone,” Scott said.
Local and state leaders have attributed a dip in Art Basel attendance to visitors worried about contracting Zika. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued travel advisories warning women who could become pregnant or already are pregnant to avoid the Miami and Miami Beach areas were Zika infections had been reported. The Zika virus, which is transferred through mosquito bites or sexual activity, primarily affects pregnant women and is linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that stunts the development of a fetus’ brain.
William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, credited government agencies and private organizations for quickly responding to the Zika scare. “By working together, good things happen,” Talbert said. “This is a great Christmas gift to our community. The future is bright. This community has always handled crisis very, very well.”
However, Scott warned Miami-Dade County will have to contend with Zika again next year when mosquito season begins anew. “This has not passed,” he said. “We are going to work together. Hopefully the federal government will be a good partner and we will get a vaccine, which is the long term [solution].”