Zika Virus Cases Confirmed in Miami Beach

The Miami Herald reports that an area of local Zika virus transmission has been identified in Miami Beach. The Florida Department of Health had previously found active transmissions only in a small area surrounding Wynwood. A Miami Beach city official confirmed to New Times that the Department of Health is expected to announce its findings later this afternoon.

Separately, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez told New Times that the city — which relies on tourism to survive economically — is "very concerned" about the virus' potential effects on local businesses and hotels.

"This could be devastating to our tourism industry," she said. "Education is of the utmost importance right now."

Reading from a memo sent by City Manager Jimmy Morales, Gonzalez said the city will now concentrate on eliminating potential breeding sites, communicating with local businesses, and "fogging" the area with pesticides.

"We need to do a massive PR campaign to educate people about the Zika virus so people are not afraid to come to Miami Beach," Rosen Gonzalez said. "I should add that includes educating not just residents, but businesses too." She added that she had not yet spoken to other city officials and did not know what the city's next steps would be.

The Florida Department of Health is expected to announce the news in the next hour, another city official briefed on the plans told New Times.

Morales, the city manager, said on Twitter today that the city is in "constant communication" with the Florida Department of Health right now.
According to yesterday's "Daily Zika Update" from the Health Department, 33 people have caught the virus in Florida so far, while 461 Floridians have caught Zika while traveling.

If you believe you have Zika, here are some tips as to how to get tested.

Tim Elfrink contributed reporting to this story.

This post has been updated.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.