The Zika Virus May Now Be Spreading In Tourist-Heavy Miami Beach

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Many of the Zika virus threats were thought to only be contained in isolated areas, but The Miami Herald reported Thursday it may have spread to Miami Beach. Two new cases were found in Miami-Dade county, but health officials did not confirm if there were any active cases in Miami Beach.

The Zika virus in Miami Beach would be a blow to the region, as the city is a prime tourist spot. And a travel advisory could impact tourism in the southern Florida region as a whole. Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said in an email that these cases are “linked” to Miami beach, but as he describes it, where the transmission occurred isn’t quite clear:

“I have been informed that two Zika cases have been linked to Miami Beach, one a tourist who visited the Beach approximately two weeks ago, and another a resident who also works on the Beach.”

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine urged the public to stay calm since a local outbreak hasn’t yet been confirmed, but that’s not likely to calm residents or anyone planning travel in the area. A health official told The New York Times that a travel advisory may be extended to other counties as a precaution, and the paper goes further by saying Miami Beach is “most likely” where the transmission occurred:

“Now that we have a second area of local transmission, I think officials wouldn’t be surprised to see in the coming weeks another area. So in an effort to simplify things and get ahead, there are discussions about expanding the area to possibly include the county or other parts of the Miami area.”

State officials seem to be getting frustrated at the lack of help from the federal government on this issue. Florida Governor Rick Scott has asked Congress for extra help and criticized Florida Senator Marco Rubio for his failure to push for more assistance on the Senate floor. Rubio for his part may not be helping matters with with recent comments about denying abortion to mothers who become infected with Zika.

(Via The Miami Herald & The New York Times)