Congresswoman Wilson Hosts Liberty City Zika Prevention Outreach Event in Response to New Zika Zone Identified in District 24
MIAMI – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson held a press conference today to address the new Zika zone identified in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. She was joined by Dr. Aileen Marty, professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University; State Senator Dwight Bullard (D-39); State Representative-Elect Roy Hardemon; local clergy; community leaders; union representatives; and other stakeholders. The press conference, held at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center, was followed by a tour of Liberty City businesses to alert residents and business owners about the Zika outbreak and distribute mosquito repellent and flyers.
“Florida’s 24th congressional district has become an open laboratory for Zika--first in Wynwood and now Liberty City,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “We now know that Zika affects the brains of adults and not just unborn babies. This underscores how important it is for everyone to take preventative steps, not just pregnant women. We can’t let our guard down and stop protecting ourselves. Everyone must continue to wear long sleeves, and use insect repellent.”
The new zone includes Liberty City, Little River and Little Haiti with boundaries between Northwest 10th Avenue and Miami Avenue, and Northwest 63rd Street and 79th Street. So far, at least five people in the new zone have contracted the virus from mosquitoes. Unlike Wynwood, which for several months was the epicenter of the Zika virus in South Florida, these neighborhoods are primarily residential, which is an additional concern.
“The ultimate solution for Zika will be the production of a safe and effective vaccine but that [isn’t happening] in the very near future,” said Dr. Marty. “In the meantime, we have to take measures right now to protect ourselves and our children, our neighbors and our communities. That’s incredibly important because if we don’t do it, it’s only going to get worse.”
Congresswoman Wilson has been at the forefront of the fight for Zika funding since July, when the first local transmissions were confirmed in the Wynwood neighborhood, which is in the heart of her district. She and a bipartisan, bicameral group of Florida lawmakers hosted a Capitol Hill press conference to provide updates on a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that she led requesting Zika funding, and a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Curt Clawson that she co-sponsored with Congressman David Jolly. The Florida delegation also met with and held joint press events with local lawmakers who traveled to Washington to lobby Congress for support to fight the Zika virus, including Governor Rick Scott. Rep. Wilson also participated in a press conference with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leaders, and health care experts and advocates to call on House Republicans to take urgent action to confront Zika. All of these efforts led to the successful passage of a continuing resolution that included $1.1 billion to combat the virus.
In addition to her work in Congress, Representative Wilson conducted extensive outreach initiatives in her district to educate residents about the dangers that Zika poses. She hosted a town hall meeting featuring medical professionals, community leaders, business owners, and elected officials to provide updates on efforts to combat the virus and hosted outreach events in Little Haiti and Overtown, which are adjacent to Wynwood.
“This particular Zika zone has not received a lot of attention, and there are so many schools and residences in the area,” said Congresswoman Wilson, who has pledged to help ensure that neighborhoods like Liberty City receive the same care and attention as tourist areas have. “We want to make sure our children are safe and we’re safe. I thank the media for its help in getting the word out to the community so that we can stop the spread of this very serious, but very preventable disease.”