Senator Steven Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) plans to introduce a resolution urging congress to reconvene in order to fully fund efforts to combat the Zika virus.
Sen. Steven Oroho introduced a resolution urging congress to reconvene in order to fully fund efforts to combat the Zika virus. (CDC/James Gathany)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that women infected with Zika during pregnancy are at risk of having children born with microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Oroho is asking for federal funding to be made available to fight the virus before it becomes rampant in the United States.
“Zika poses a very clear and present health risk even within our own borders. We are already starting to see cases of Zika and Zika-related birth defects occurring throughout the country,” Senator Oroho said. “Federal inaction is not acceptable as our communities need the requisite tools to help fight the spread of this disease.”
Following reports that New Jersey experienced its first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly, Oroho sent letters to the members of the state’s congressional delegating urging them to take the lead in the fight for Zika funding. He also fought to include $500,000 through the state budget process for mosquito control efforts aimed at combating the virus. Although the appropriation was not included in the final budget, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced that an identical amount would be allocated for grants to fund mosquito control statewide.
As of July 27, over 1,600 travel-associated cases of Zika have been reported in the United States, including 50 cases in New Jersey. Nearly $600 million in federal funds were allocated to Zika prevention. However, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services has estimated that those funds could dry up by the end of September, and resources to develop a vaccine could be gone even sooner.
Oroho is urging Congress to return from its recess to approve additional funding in order to fight the possible spread of infected mosquitoes during the summer months when they are most active.
“By delaying action, we are giving the virus a chance to spread more rapidly,” Senator Oroho added. “We must be prepared for any potential outbreak, and federal funding is critical in prevention efforts. The time to act is now.”
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