Health Care

Governor lifts part of Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach

Scott: Part of Miami Beach Zika free

Florida governor Rick Scott announces that a part of the Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach is free of the disease and the advisory has been lifted on Nov. 22, 2016.
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Florida governor Rick Scott announces that a part of the Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach is free of the disease and the advisory has been lifted on Nov. 22, 2016.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott lifted part of Miami Beach’s zone of active Zika transmission on Tuesday but cautioned that “this isn’t over.”

In a Tuesday press conference at Roasters’ n Toasters deli, Scott said 45 days have passed without local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus in the zone covering the middle of Miami Beach. As he did when the Wynwood neighborhood Zika transmission zone was lifted in September, Scott encouraged tourists to return to the area and patronize businesses there.

The area from 28th Street to 63rd Street, encompassing all of Middle Beach from Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, was declared a transmssion zone for the virus in mid-September. Coupled with an additional transmission zone covering South Beach — from 28th Street to Eighth Street — two-thirds of the city had been deemed an area pregnant women should avoid because mosquitoes had been actively spreading the Zika virus.

Miami Beach business owners talk about the effect Zika had on the amount of pedestrian traffic on Lincoln Road over Labor Day weekend.

After Tuesday’s announcement, the remaining two active Zika zones left in Miami-Dade County cover a half-square-mile area in South Beach and a one-square-mile area in Little River.

“We can’t take this for granted,” Scott said. “We have to understand that we’re going to have to continue to fight this until we get a vaccine.”

Scott praised the local and state reaction to Zika and said the most important effect of the campaign is how much Floridians have learned about preventing the virus. Fighting Zika has been a learning process, he said, but it won’t be a victory until there’s a vaccine. He stressed the importance of preventing Zika to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.

The other good news, Scott said, is that his “good friends” Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Reince Priebus are in power, so he has someone to call if there’s a problem with Zika funding.

A crowd gathered at Miami Beach City Hall to protest against the aerial spraying of the pesticide naled to combat the spread of the Zika virus on the island, Sept. 14, 2016.

Bill Talbert, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said he couldn’t “think of a better Thanksgiving present for the community,” and for Art Basel, the annual international art fair which is set to take place in the heart of the South Beach Zika zone next week.

“This will lift us,” he said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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