BREAKING: #Zika Infects #Reckless @MayorGimenez Re-Election -- Explaining #DebateDodger

Zika infects the Miami-Dade mayoral election Miami Herald 8/5/16


Of all the issues with the potential to upend the looming 2016 Miami-Dade mayoral election, mosquito control was an unlikely candidate — until a trendy Miami neighborhood became ground zero for Zika infections in the continental U.S.

The county’s resources have been repeatedly called into question in recent months given Miami’s heightened risk for Zika infection as a travel hub for Latin America and the Caribbean, where the virus has been active for at least two years.

June 1, 2016: "Only a Dozen Inspectors Stand  Between Zika and Miami" Bloomberg News



“They are underfunded and undermanned,” Ed Fussell, former chief of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, told the Miami Herald earlier this week.  

This year, Miami-Dade set aside $1.7 million for mosquito control in a county of 2,400 square miles and 2.7 million people. That’s down from $3.7 million in 2006 and about one-fifth of the money spent by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. 

Revelations last week that several patients in Miami had contracted the virus from mosquitoes in Wynwood confirmed that Miami was the nation’s first city with a local cluster of the disease. Pregnant women have flooded doctors’ offices and some are leaving town. Tourist-dependent businesses have sweated ever since the Centers for Disease Control issued an unprecedented domestic travel advisory telling expecting women to keep away.

And at the center of it all is Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the man who oversees local mosquito control efforts and happens to be little more than three weeks away from an Aug. 30 election.

“These are the types of crises that make or break elected officials,” said Fernand Amandi, a Miami pollster and AM radio host. “Zika has become a four-alarm fire for South Florida, and it’s not just his constituents that are watching.”

These are the types of crises that make or break elected officials Fernand Amandi, Miami pollster

On Thursday, CDC director Tom Frieden said he wouldn’t be surprised to see more infections in Wynwood and noted how difficult it is to control the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries Zika and lays eggs that can hatch in the tiniest amount of standing water. 

Still, as the county’s response has drawn praise, its preparation has been criticized.

It’s sad that we have a mayor that has to wait for the governor to come down in order to say we’re going to make this a priority Raquel Regalado, candidate for Miami-Dade mayor

So far, Miami-Dade has 118 confirmed cases of Zika infection, all but 14 of which were acquired abroad. This week, the virus bled into the political realm as county candidates fielded questions about the county’s budget and response during a Wednesday night debate in Overtown, where just a few hours later planes would pass overhead, dropping pesticides.

“He just doesn’t make public safety a priority until we’re at a crisis moment,” Raquel Regalado, Gimenez’s main competition and a School Board member, said Friday in an interview. “And in this instance, with Zika in particular and the way it’s all been blown up in the media, it’s not just a public safety concern but it’s also what’s the economic impact going to be?”

Gimenez also took jabs Friday from Doral Mayor Luigi Boria and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado about what they said was a lack of mosquito spraying during a meeting of mayors with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in Doral. Regalado, who is also Raquel Regalado’s father, repeated a prior claim that the county hadn’t sprayed in Wynwood for years.

Whether Miami’s Zika outbreak will consume the election cycle in the coming weeks probably depends on whether infections continue and whether they spread to other areas of the county. 

So far, Wynwood business is down, but the county’s tourism boosters say overall the issues hasn’t been a big problem. Meanwhile, the state’s health department says 16 cases have been contracted locally, including one possibly born in Southwest Dade and another from Wynwood confirmed Friday.


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