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Senator Bill Nelson meets with Palm Beach County leaders to discuss Zika

Posted at 8:36 PM, Aug 10, 2016

Palm Beach County is gearing up for the Zika fight.

At a roundtable Wednesday, Senator Bill Nelson wanted to to see what local leaders have - and what they don't.

The Palm Beach County Department of Public Health says it's armed with thousands of so called 'Zika kits' for pregnant women.

The department is ready to pass them out to clinics if and when the county gets its first locally acquired case.

The intent is if and when that time does occur, these kits will be strategically placed," says Dr. Robert Parkes with the Department of Health.

In addition, the county is mailing out thousands of educational pamphlets - reminding people to drain standing water in their yards, and to cover up when they go out.

County officials fear what a drop in tourism would mean for workers.

"If we don't get this under control, we will no longer have tourists coming to the state of Florida," says county administrator Verdenia Baker.

"The first people to go are the housekeeping staff, the gardeners, the busboys, wait staff in the banquet rooms," says Jorge Pesquera, president of Discover the Palm Beaches "And those folks are going to be very affected."

Mosquito control also worries about funding.

"Because of the staff time, we'll probably need another half million dollars of staff just to be able to keep up with the number of calls and requests we get," says Daniel Bates with Palm Beach County mosquito control.

It's not just mosquito control, however.

Leaders saying in the long run, it will take more capital all around to win the fight.

"We have some funds, but we need much more," Baker says. "It's not just Palm beach county, but it's the entire state and the entire country."

Senator Nelson joined with Senator Marco Rubio to ask congress to end its vacation early to return to Washington to pass a 1.1 billion dollar Zika bill. 

So far, congressional leaders have refused.

"The governmental structure of political decision making in the congress is just not facing the facts," Nelson says. "Let's put the pressure on the House - but it doesn't look like they're going to do it until they see the spread of Zika."