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Mayor Philip Levine unhappy with governor's response to Zika virus in Miami Beach

Levine says Gov. Rick Scott didn't give information in timely manner


MIAMI BEACH. Fla. – In the heart of sun-soaked South Beach – an area dubbed the new "Zika zone" by the Centers for Disease Control -- Sunday was another day choked full of tourists and locals. 

"It's a concern to me, but I just do all that I can to protect myself. I have put on my Off! with DEET and you just gotta keep on going. It's really nothing you can do," Shona Rucker said. 

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine isn’t happy with how residents learned about the spread of the Zika virus in his community, claiming that Gov. Rick Scott didn't handle the information about five new cases of the virus properly. 

"We just hope the governor will stop playing politics," Levine said. "This is a very serious issue. I'm the mayor. I need the information."

However, a spokeswoman for Scott said the governor has been in constant contact with local leaders.

"Gov. Scott has been in contact with mayors, local officials and community leaders for weeks and will continue to keep them informed," spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante said. "Friday afternoon, the governor hosted a call with all of the local officials in Miami-Dade (County) to give them updates on what is going on."

She said the governor contacted the mayor over the weekend but has not heard back.

Health experts said they believe those five cases originated in a one-and-a-half mile area of Miami Beach that contains several of South Florida's major tourist draws.

Some hotel owners in the new "Zika zone" said they've seen cancelations and expect more to come.

However, despite Zika fears, Miami Beach remained packed with people over the weekend.

Aicha Bouyabrine, who is due to give birth in a few weeks, wasn't overly concerned about Zika as she strolled along the area's main drags.

"I don't feel like I need to worry about it right now because I am not in the first trimester of my pregnancy, so I feel very calm about it," she said.

Crews have been spraying areas of Miami Beach and working with residents to make sure they aren’t providing easy places for mosquitoes from breed.

Aerial spraying won't happen in Miami Beach as ocean winds would blow the chemicals away from their intended targets, experts said.

In addition, the slew of high rise buildings would prevent the planes from flying low enough to properly spray the area. 

 


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