By any measure, South Florida's Zika outbreak is far from under control. At least 15 people have now been locally infected in Miami, with the latest reported case transmitted outside the hot zone of Wynwood. Serious questions are being asked about lacking state and local funding for mosquito control. And the epidemic looks far more likely to continue spreading than to be contained.
But Donald Trump says everything is cool, thanks to his good buddy Gov. Rick Scott.
"You have a great governor who's doing a fantastic job, Rick Scott, on the Zika," Trump told CBS12 in Daytona last night. "He's going to have it under control. He probably already does."
Let's review the numbers for a moment. According to Scott's own Florida Department of Health, there are now 336 people with confirmed Zika cases in Florida, including 55 pregnant women. All 15 locally transmitted cases are in Miami.
On the local level, Miami-Dade's underfunded and understaffed mosquito control unit is scrambling to contain the problem, with workers walking the streets of Wynwood to blast standing water with pesticides; this morning, planes dropped a mosquito-killing fog over the area. But experts say neither measure is likely to contain the Zika-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Nationally, meanwhile, funding for a vaccine is about to dry up thanks to a deadlocked Congress that was unable to agree on a few million dollars to help contain the worst viral scare in decades. Everyone, from Marco Rubio to President Barack Obama, is demanding more federal cash to fight the outbreak.
But Trump seemed completely in the dark about these details when quizzed last night. "It's a problem; it's a big problem," he conceded. "But I watch and I see what they're doing with the spraying and everything else, and I think [Scott] is doing a fantastic job. And he's letting everyone know what the problem is and how to get rid of it."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Pushed about whether Congress should convene an emergency session to find more money to fight the virus, Trump made even less sense.
"I would say that's up to Rick Scott," said the GOP nominee, who apparently believes Florida's governor has some say over U.S. Congress. "It depends on what he's looking to do, because he really seems to have it under control in Florida."
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo spoke for many in Congress with his eloquent response: