Press Release

Border Congressmen Secure $560,000 to Fight Zika in Hidalgo County

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HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas, February 10, 2017 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments

This afternoon, Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) announced the allocation of $560,000 in federal funding to fight the Zika virus on the border.

“I fought for these federal funds so our community can invest in proven prevention methods,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar. “Zika virus infections have been reported here in our border communities, so vigilance is more important than ever. Now, our local officials have the resources they need to protect Hidalgo families. I thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, for their help in securing these funds.”

"Zika is a serious threat to communities in South Texas, and I am glad state and federal officials recognize the importance of treating and preventing the transmission of the virus in the region," said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. "This funding will provide the Hidalgo County Health Department with much-needed resources to expand its screening and support investigations of the virus. The funds will also enable the Department to educate the community through outreach efforts. I will continue to work with Congressmen Cuellar and Vela, who have also helped in securing these funds, to ensure that our communities are equipped to address any and all health risks."

“The safety of our people is imperative in this fight against Zika,” said Rep. Filemon Vela. “I have met personally with Director Friedan of the CDC and Commissioner Hellerstadt of Texas DSHS to provide continued support and ensure that the $1.1 billion in funding that we passed in Congress is utilized efficiently and effectively.”

Congress provided 394 million to the CDC as part of the Zika supplemental funding bill. These funds were part of a $25 million federal allocation for Zika preparedness to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), about $10 million of which is flagged for local jurisdictions including 16 health departments. Those jurisdictions, including Hidalgo County, were selected for their higher risk of Zika cases: mainly border, gulf coast, and urban areas. Laredo received another $560,000 as well.

Rep. Cuellar has worked to protect the people of his district from Zika since the epidemic began.

In April 2016, he hosted an international meeting at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) to discuss Zika prevention in Texas, bringing together experts from American and Mexican academia, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security, medical centers, and Texas state government.

In July 2016, in response to a request from Rep. Cuellar, the CDC contracted a team of public health professionals to work with the City of Laredo Health Department and other health professionals from Laredo to Brownsville, focusing on increasing surveillance, prevention, preparation and education to combat the Zika virus.


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