These Gifs Are Funny, Waiting 200 Days for Zika Funding Is Not
August 26, 2016
By: Kevin Griffis, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
On February 8, 2016, one week after the World Health Organization designated the clusters of microcephaly and their connection to Zika a public health emergency, the Obama Administration requested $1.9B in emergency supplemental funding to support the federal government’s response. Tomorrow marks 200 days since we made that request. A lot has happened in those 200 days.
Locally-transmitted cases of Zika have spread across South and Central America. Puerto Rico is in the midst of a Zika epidemic, and Zika has made its way to the continental U.S. There are now more than 11,500 cases reported to CDC and local transmission of the virus in Florida.
HHS has been working continuously to prevent further spread. Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that work on the Zika vaccine is ahead of schedule, and it moved forward with clinical trials.
Absent congressional action, to ensure that there was no slowdown in our work to find a vaccine and fight the mosquito that transmits Zika, the Obama administration has been forced to redirect about $670 million from other public health priorities — from cancer research, tuberculosis and the effort to combat Ebola, among many others.
200 days without acting on Zika is serious. These gifs are not. While Congress has failed to act on a bipartisan funding measure, others have accomplished a lot. And I’m not just talking about HHS. After all, in February of this year, Simone Biles didn’t have a single Olympic gold medal. Today, she has four.
Here was the very different world we lived in 200 long days ago.
Leo was Oscar-less. After being nominated four times, in late February, Leo won the Academy Award for Best Actor for being mauled by a bear — twice!
Cleveland’s championship drought was ongoing. In June, Lebron and the Cavs won the NBA Championship title over the Golden State Warriors, and now Lebron has a CNBC show … about Cleveland. Seriously.
Peyton Manning played for the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning retired in March, after winning Super Bowl 50, his 200th career win. Now, Mark Sanchez is a Broncos QB, and I’m staying in shape, because, you know, it could happen.
American Idol was on the air. After 15 seasons, American Idol said farewell. I never really understood why it said hello.
Pokemon was just a trivial memory. (It was cards or something, right?). It’s hard now to remember a time when teenagers (and really people of all ages) were capable of walking outside without trying to “catch ’em all.” [Goes to millennial staffer to ask what that means].
Lemonade was just lemonade. Beyoncé released her mega-album in April, and it will probably be critics’ number one record in 2016, but Jay-Z and I agree, it’s actually Car Seat Headrest’s “Teens of Denial.”
Like I said, a lot happens in 200 days. But a lot more could have been done to fund the fight against Zika. These gifs, while (mildly) entertaining, illustrate just how much time has passed since we made our request for additional resources. We’re doing everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to this virus here at home, but we’re running out of options.
We need emergency funding to continue developing vaccines, controlling the mosquitoes that carry Zika and conducting research to better understand the virus. Congress returns from recess on Tuesday, September 6. We stand ready to work with them. A clean, bipartisan bill must be everyone’s top priority.