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Miami Beach mayor says governor 'blindsided' him with Zika virus announcement

Mayor Philip Levine calls for timely, accurate information from Gov. Rick Scott

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said Monday that Gov. Rick Scott "blindsided" him with last week's announcement that there were confirmed cases of the Zika virus in his city.

Levine was joined Monday by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, at a news conference in Miami Beach as they discussed the resources needed to battle the Zika virus.

Scott and Florida Department of Health officials Friday confirmed five cases of the Zika virus in Miami Beach. The so-called "Zika zone" stretches from Eighth Street to 28th Street.

"I think it'd be more useful in the future to let the elected leaders, let the state administrations, know what's going on so we can take the necessary steps," Levine told reporters.

Wasserman Schultz said that she will "push hard" to take up the president's supplemental appropriations request for additional funding to battle the Zika virus when Congress returns to session after Labor Day.

"This has to stop," she said.

Scott announced Monday that the Florida Department of Health will allocate $5 million in additional state funding to Miami-Dade County for Zika virus preparedness and mosquito control.

During a round-table discussion with Scott and other government officials later in the day, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez called on the governor to be more forthcoming with information, citing a communication breakdown.

"We want to make sure that that doesn't happen," Gimenez said.

Levine also addressed what he called the "10,000-pound gorilla in the room" -- communication.

"I think it's important that myself, the city manager (and) our counterparts at the county are getting timely, accurate information as fast as possible," Levine said.

Scott assured Levine that any information from his office will be timely and accurate.

"We're going to make sure what we put out is information that we can stand behind," Scott said.


About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.