As Congress stalls funding, White House will move Ebola funds to Zika


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will move $510 million in unspent money dedicated to battling last year’s global public health crisis — theEbola virus — toward this year’s global public health crisis: the Zika virus.

But the White House also made clear that the United States needs to be able to address both Ebola and Zika, and called on Congress to act immediately on its $1.9 billion request to battle Zika.

“These efforts need to continue, and they can’t be stopped or short-changed,” said Health and Human Services Director Sylvia Burwell. “We have two global public health crises, Ebola and Zika, and we can’t set one aside to deal with the other.”

There have been 312 travel-related cases of Zika in the continental United States as of March 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control. None have been confirmed to involve the spread of Zika to someone who has not traveled outside the United States. But there have been another 352 cases in the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, where the disease is spreading by local mosquitoes.

Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom on Tuesday declared that “an international outbreak of the Zika virus is sustained, severe, and is spreading internationally, and that it is in the national interest to respond to the related public health emergency of international concern.” Under a spending bill already passed by Congress, that language allows the administration to move money previously devoted to Ebola.



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