Officials encourage travelers not to shun Florida for Zika

MIAMI (AP) – Florida mosquitoes have likely spread the Zika virus on the U.S. mainland for the first time, and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says the tourism-dependent state may face an economic crisis if visitors start canceling plans to come here.

But officials in Miami and Orlando caution against panic, and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are no plans to recommend limiting travel to South Florida.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says potential visitors to Florida shouldn’t think twice about coming to the Sunshine State.

Jacob’s jurisdiction covers the Orlando area’s major theme parks in the Orlando area. She says Florida’s theme parks have some of the best mosquito control measures in place that she knows of and that the parks are safe.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio talked about the impact on tourism yesterday in Dural, Florida saying, “I promise you that this morning, as this news gets out, that there are mosquitoes in Florida infecting people with Zika. It has the potential to have a real impact on our tourist sector as visitors begin to reconsider whether to come here. I don’t want them to reconsider.”

Rubio added, “the fact of the matter is if you come to Florida and take the steps necessary you will be fine, you will be okay. But I want also to recognize that why this issue is so important – it is a public health crisis but it is also an economic threat to our state.”

Rubio is pushing for his fellow lawmakers in Washington to help approve funding to fight the virus. Rubio is a supporter of President Obama’s plan to spend $1.9 billion to fight Zika.

The Florida Senator also said the federal government still has $300 million in unused funds and urged the President to put these funds to use in Florida.

Rubio said, “Zika is not a partisan issue. It is not a political issue. Zika doesn’t just bite Republicans or Democrats or Independent – it bites everyone. This is not a partisan issue. It is mosquitoes! It is going to get worse – we are now in the middle of the summer.”

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