The number of confirmed Zika virus infection cases in New York City is climbing. Today, NYC Health reports 310 confirmed cases, up from the 233 reported by the New York Times on June 6th (and up from just 78 cases documented in May.)
With renewed enthusiasm, Senator Chuck Schumer is urging Congress to pass an incredibly flawed $1.9 billion emergency funding bill to combat the spread of Zika this week, before Congress goes on their all-summer-long break through September. The bill includes $400 million in new spending; the rest is carved out of other federal programs. Democrats blocked the bill last month, because hey, funny thing: While the bill allocates billions primarily for mosquito control programs, vaccines, and diagnostics, the same bill prevents any supplemental funds for Planned Parenthood’s birth control services, like contraceptives and condoms. The CDC has repeatedly confirmed that Zika can be sexually transmitted—specifically, that a man with the virus can pass it to a female or male sex partner—and condoms could prevent just that.
The bill also excludes the requested $50 million for maternal and child health to the people most severely at risk. While the majority with Zika experience none-to-mild illness symptoms, those who are pregnant are at risk for microcephaly—a devastating condition where children are born with severe brain damage and abnormally small heads. In New York City, 36 of the 310 people infected with Zika were pregnant at the time of the diagnosis.
“Zika reveals an extreme consequence of the failure to provide universal access to sexual and family planning services,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in May, highlighting that the virus affects the poorest countries with the worst women’s healthcare policies the most.
New York State currently has one of the highest number of confirmed Zika cases in US States (310 out of total 1,132), while an additional 2,526 cases have been reported in the US Territories—1,726 in Puerto Rico alone, including 191 among pregnant women. In April, Brazil estimated 4,908 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly.