Miami-Dade government and tourism officials had circled Nov. 14 on their calendars as the 45th day since the last local Zika infection in Miami Beach — a milestone that would allow the travel advisory warning pregnant women to stay away from the tourist city to be lifted.
But it’s not time to pop the champagne bottles just yet. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that additional cases showing symptoms in mid-October mean the zone will remain after Monday, likely extending the travel warning into early December, right as international art fair Art Basel begins.
CDC Director Tom Frieden confirmed the delay in a Friday evening email to Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. Frieden wrote that two cases were diagnosed with symptoms showing Oct. 8 and Oct. 17.
“We are working with Florida to establish a sensible and understandable rationale for the date of lifting of the advisory as soon as feasible,” Frieden wrote.
Earlier Friday, rumblings among public officials suggested Monday might not be the day. Unlike when the 45-day mark was approaching in Wynwood — the first neighborhood in the continental U.S. where mosquitoes were found spreading Zika this year — no press conferences or special events marking the occasion had been announced.
Levine told the Miami Herald he would have liked a heads up from the Florida Department of Health so he could lower the expectations of hotels and other businesses in South Beach that have been waiting.
“We wish, obviously, that the health department had given us more advanced notice so we could advise the hotels and the tourism community who are dependent on the information,” he said.
Late Friday, a department spokesperson said the state follows the CDC’s guidance and referred the Herald’s questions to the CDC.
The 45-day window is a standard set by the CDC that suggests mosquitoes are no longer spreading the virus.
A zone of active transmission that covers most of South and Middle Beach remains in place, stretching from Eighth Street to 63rd Street, from Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. Another one-square-mile zone covers the Little River neighborhood in Miami. The CDC continues to advise women to consider postponing travel to all of Miami-Dade.
Earlier Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported two new locally acquired cases of the Zika virus in Miami Beach. One individual is a Florida resident and the other is a non-Florida resident. It is not clear if these two cases caused the delay in the lifting of the zone.
Zika Infections Reported in Florida as of Nov. 11
Number of Cases (all travel related)
*Note: This includes pregnant women and non-Florida residents who acquired Zika outside of Florida, but were diagnosed in Florida.
**Does not include local cases
Source: Florida Department of Health