The Obama administration is raising the alarm about the Zika virus, warning Congress and the American people that more funding is needed to respond to the threat posed by the virus.
“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Schuchat warned Americans to prepare to fight the virus, which will inevitably be transmitted to the continental U.S. She also urged pregnant women not to travel to infected areas, adding they should specifically defer travel to the Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Representatives from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were brought to the White House to brief reporters on the disease that threatens pregnant women and their unborn children.
“[T]he more and more we learn, the more and more you get concerned about the scope of what this virus is doing,” warned Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Bottom line is we still have a lot to learn.”
Fauci urged Congress to pass more spending to fight the virus, although he admitted that the CDC had already been siphoning funds from other projects to fund research and send prevention kits to Zika infected areas.
“We really do need to learn a lot more, because this is a very unusual virus that we can’t even pretend to know everything about it that we need to know,” Fauci said.
The Obama administration has called for Congress to pass $1.9 billion in additional funding for the agencies.
But Congress has urged the Obama administration to find funds to fund their research and prevention efforts within their existing budgets, and to draw money from the extra funds passed by Congress to fight Ebola.
“We’re glad the administration has agreed to our request to use existing Ebola funds to address the Zika epidemic,” Doug Andres, a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan said. “If additional Zika resources are needed those funds could and should be addressed through the regular appropriations process.”
The House Appropriations Committee has indicated that they will continue to monitor the funding of federal agencies, to assure that they have enough resources.