CDC's Tom Frieden on Zika fight: 'Basically, we're out of money'

On Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, made an ardent call for congressional support in the organization's Zika prevention efforts. The call is possibly the most urgent of many made by the director since the partisan battle over Zika funds began when President Barack Obama requested nearly $2 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus in February, according to The Hill.

"Basically, we're out of money," Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a briefing in downtown Washington, according to The Hill. "Congress needs to do something."

In the most recent iteration of a congressional Zika bill, the House passed a $1.1 million measure including provisions that would divert $622.1 million from other programs, including Planned Parenthood. The Senate blocked the bill and the legislative bodies failed to pass legislation to address the issue before breaking for a seven-week summer recess. Both the Senate and Congress are slated to reconvene on Sept. 6.

The appeal from Dr. Frieden comes after the CDC — the organization leading the nation's Zika response — has spent nearly all of the $222 million it borrowed from across the federal health department for the response. Funds have been diverted from HIV prevention programs, immunization initiatives and disease tracking efforts, according to The Hill. Much of these resources have been directed toward the response in Florida where local transmission of the virus continues.

As of Aug. 24, there have been 2,517 reported Zika cases in the U.S., spread across all but two states — Alaska and Wyoming. Sixteen infants have been born with Zika-related birth defects in the U.S.

"Currently, there are a lot of things we can't do," said Dr. Frieden.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
FDA recommends testing all blood donations for Zika 
First asymptomatic case of sexual Zika transmission reported in US 
41 locally transmitted Zika cases confirmed in Singapore

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