Carl Hiaasen

Rick Scott’s list of how to fight Zika in 14 easy steps

Gov. Rick Scott visited a class at Jose De Diego Middle School in Wynwood last week to tell students how to prevent the Zika virus.
Gov. Rick Scott visited a class at Jose De Diego Middle School in Wynwood last week to tell students how to prevent the Zika virus. MIAMI HERALD

Gov. Rick Scott’s War on Zika:

1. Whenever a new Zika case is confirmed in Florida, I will immediately rush to that county and stage a “round-table” discussion. This will calm fears in the local community, and lead tourists to believe that it’s still safe to visit.

2. If no actual round tables are available, I will settle for a rectangular one or (if absolutely necessary) a square one, although my staff is instructed never to refer to the meeting as a “square-table” discussion.

3. I’ll invite a sufficient number of local office-holders and health officials to fill all seats at the table. This will give the appearance of harmonious teamwork. It will also discourage Sen. Marco Rubio from showing up to steal the spotlight, because there won’t be any more chairs.

4. I will begin each round table discussion by thanking everybody there for all their hard work in the battle against Zika. They, in turn, will thank me.

5. Next I will talk briefly about the latest outbreak, where it occurred, and what actions are being taken to eliminate mosquitoes that are spreading the virus. Using Power Point, I’ll present a shaded-in street map meant to imply that the insects aren’t leaving that particular area, even though they can fly basically anywhere why want.

6. Because TV and other media will be covering the meeting, it’s important to present a unified front. So, if any local mayors are annoyed that they learned about their Zika cases in a press release from my office, I’ll assure them that I tried to contact them first, and suggest that my email must have accidentally gone to their Spam file.

7. The next part of the round-table meeting will be spent denying that I’m suppressing information about the Zika cases, or downplaying the threat from the disease. I remain confident that we can address all public-health issues without scaring off a single tourist (or, at least, fewer tourists than were scared off by the toxic algae blooms).

8. If anyone at the round table asks why I cut funding for local mosquito-control districts by 40 percent five years ago — and even shut down a state mosquito-testing lab — I will pretend I didn’t hear the question.

9. Then I’ll blame the federal government for not giving Florida more money for fighting Zika. If anyone at the table asks why a Republican governor can’t get health-crisis funds from a Republican Congress, I will start coughing as if I’ve got a piece of a Rolaids stuck in my throat.

10. After taking a drink of water, I’ll soften my tone and say that I want a working “partnership” with the federal government in the fight against this serious disease.

11. If anyone at the table points out that President Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in Zika funds way back in February, and asks me why House Republicans sabotaged the bill by adding off-the-wall provisions to punish Planned Parenthood and honor the Confederate flag, I’ll let my eyes glaze over, stammer for a moment and then repeat my wishes for a “partnership” between Tallahassee and Washington.

12. Then, smoothly changing the subject, I will invite a disease expert to speak about the challenge of wiping out all Zika-bearing mosquitoes during the summer rainy season. Because it’s vital not to frighten residents and visitors, the expert should focus on sensible precautions — not the fact that there are literally millions of freaking mosquitoes hatching every day in puddles and ditches all over South Florida.

13. Before the meeting is called to an end, I will graciously allow local office-holders to say a few words. The ones who are running for re-election will probably talk a bit too long, and express their frustrations about poor inter-government communications and the dire lack of Zika funding. Hopefully they’ll blame the feds, and not me.

14. After the round-table session is over, all panelists will be led to a secure space where they can privately re-apply the potent insect repellent of their choice. My personal favorite is unscented Deep Woods Off, with 25 percent DEET. Staff members from my office will be available with extra bottles, and also to assist with the spritzing.

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