U.S. Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation on Friday that would fully fund the Obama administration’s $1.9 billion request aimed at counteracting the Zika virus.
“In Hawaii, the threat of the Zika virus remains a major public health concern, especially as we approach the summer months,” Hirono said. “Five cases of the Zika virus have already been reported in our state, and given what we know about Zika, we must face this head on instead of taking a piecemeal approach to preparing our families, health care workers and providers, and communities. When I last spoke to Secretary Burwell, she agreed that we need to act swiftly to fight the Zika virus. Our legislation would do just that by robustly funding vaccine development, including the work of Hawaii Biotech, education, health care, and vector control programs.”
The senators have begun contacting officials and stakeholders in Hawaii’s life science sector, like Hawaii Biotech, an Oahu-based company attempting to develop innovative treatments for Zika and the West Nile Virus.
“This is a true emergency,” Nelson said. “We must approve the president’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding now, not later, because the cost of inaction would be far greater, and the consequences way too devastating.”