State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today expressed his frustration over Congress’ majority vote against funding efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus after county health department officials announced that two Mahoning County residents have tested positive for the harmful virus. Federal legislation that reached the Senate floor Tuesday would have appropriated $1.1 billion to fight the mosquito-borne Zika, but Republican lawmakers inserted several various last-minute provisions that forced their Democratic colleagues to block its passage.
“This dangerous virus is in our homeland now – it’s past time to get serious about this epidemic,” said Boccieri. “We’ve got to be able to test people and prevent the virus from spreading. Part of the funding that the majority of Congressmen and women voted against would have been appropriated for testing, which could involve utilizing our mass aerial spray mission at the Youngstown Air Reserve Base. While citizens back home are getting sick, Congress is scoring political points. I believe we need to vote on a clean bill, with no other unrelated provisions on Obamacare or anything else.”
In the absence of federal support, Rep. Boccieri emphasized the need for quick action at the local level. “It’s time for our local communities at the county level to draft mosquito control plans to ensure we’re as prepared as possible,” he added.
The two Mahoning County residents that tested positive for Zika have both recently been in countries where the virus is prevalent. These new incidences bring the total number of travel-associated cases in Ohio to 18. Across the country, there have been 822 total cases confirmed.