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Schaer Urges Governor to Act on Zika Virus

Assembly Budget Committee Chair: June Veto of $5M for Prevention Lacked Foresight

Assembly Budget Committee Chair Gary S. Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) issued the following statement Thursday urging Gov. Chris Christie to act to prepare New Jersey to combat the spread of the Zika virus:

“Recent reports of the first known Zika-related infant death in the country and dozens of diagnosed cases in New Jersey are manifestations of the worst-case scenarios the Legislature worked to prepare for months ago. Unfortunately, Governor Christie’s lack of foresight on this issue has left our state underprepared to combat what doctors, epidemiologists and other public health professionals agree requires urgent action.

“The budget the Legislature put forth earlier this year included $5 million in funding to combat the Zika virus, the spread of which recently prompted the federal government to declare a public health emergency in Puerto Rico. This money would have funded training for local health officers who could then provide diagnostic testing to travelers to Zika-affected areas and stem the tide of transmission. With the federal government forecasting a testing shortage and Congress failing to act on the president’s request for emergency funding, the crucial need for the funding New Jersey Democrats proposed is now painstakingly evident, as is the governor’s failure to take responsibility for the health and wellness of residents of this state.

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to the threat posed by this virus. In recognition of this, governors in neighboring states have demonstrated leadership by acting to prevent the spread of a disease that can have lifelong effects. They have regarded this as the serious public health issue it is. New Jersey needs Governor Christie to do the same.”