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Act One of 'Zika Hits the USA' Has Begun

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
July 29, 2016


Zika is here, in the USA. Fasten your seat belts because we're in for a bumpy ride.

Local mosquitoes in the Miami area are carrying the Zika virus, and have infected at least four Floridians. In announcing this alarming news during a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, added a sharp warning: "This is not just a Florida issue. It's a national issue -- we just happen to be at the forefront."

Now all the falderal typical of American outbreaks will commence: Political posturing, hysteria versus naysaying, conspiracy theories, demands for safety and care and a daily mounting toll of identified cases. And this year the hoopla will unfold against the background of one of the ugliest, most deeply divided election years in modern history.

In Washington, House Republicans are likely gambling that the United States outbreak will be relatively mild, and GOP denunciation of the Obama administration's failure to swiftly juggle budgets to conjure funds for fighting the virus will garner public support. In the White House, the opposite is the case: Officials assume a severe outbreak is unfolding, and blame GOP refusal to allocate new money for the current vulnerability to the mosquito-borne disease across southern states.

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