WASHINGTON — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a roundtable discussion on the spread of the Zika virus and examined what the federal government is doing to protect the American people on Wednesday. The discussion came in the wake of funding being voted down by Senate Democrats on Tuesday.
Johnson and fellow committee members were told during the discussion that the U.S. needs to focus on four areas: tracking information, mosquito population control, information sharing, and public awareness.
“As we head into peak mosquito season across most of the United States, there is still much we do not know about the virus. It is critically important to the health and well-being of this nation to obtain answers,” said Johnson. “We all understand we need to get money flowing. Hopefully, we can all find an agreement to get that done.”
VIDEO: Watch the full hearing here.
H. Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of S.C. Johnson and Son, located in Racine, Wis., told the senators, “I do think the one of the most important ways the government in this country can help is in environmental control, controlling mosquitoes before they breed and helping with education, PSAs, communication, helping people understand what they can do to help eliminate the mosquito threat and mosquito breeding grounds.”
As of June 22, there were 820 cases of Zika in the continental United States.
In Wisconsin, there are six confirmed Zika cases related to travel. Puerto Rico has confirmed over 1,800 locally acquired Zika cases, with predictions that roughly 20 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million inhabitants will contract the virus this year. Eight women across the United States and its territories have had adverse pregnancy outcomes related to Zika.
Since the start of the epidemic in Brazil, more than 1,500 babies have been born with Zika-associated microcephaly or nervous system malformation. About 80 percent of people with Zika exhibit no symptoms.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats voted down $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus.