Having had to postpone his earlier Zika finger-pointing tour in Washington due to a hurricane, Rick Scott has rescheduled and is back at it there this week. No doubt the results will be just more of the blame game he's been playing while ignoring the fact that his party is the one holding up the funding request made by President Obama months and months ago. But there's plenty of blame to go around, much of it in Rick Scott's own back yard where many, many fingers can be pointed directly at him.
As The Miami Herald reports, while Scott has vowed to keep Floridians informed with accurate and timely information, that is hardly the case in reality:
But the information issued by the governor and state agencies has not been timely or accurate — cases announced as “new” are often several weeks old, because of a time lag in diagnosis — and excludes details that public health experts say would allow people to make informed decisions and provide a complete picture of Zika’s foothold in Florida.“I don’t think the message has been strong enough, in terms of ‘We have a problem,’” said Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics for New York University Langone Medical Center. “It makes no sense — unless you see it through the eyes of the impact on tourism. I think that’s money driving reporting rather than public health.”
Over the past month, as local Zika infections have spread beyond Miami-Dade, with cases cropping up in Broward, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties, Florida officials have:
▪ Stopped providing detailed information on epidemiological investigations into local Zika infections;
▪ Refused to identify all the locations where Zika-positive mosquitoes were trapped in Miami Beach;
▪ And under-reported the number of local Zika infections in Florida by excluding anyone who is not a state resident.
Not reporting local Zika infections to tourists is particularly egregious to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“That’s just wrong,” he said. “To get a true picture of what’s going on in Florida, you want to know, among anyone who was in Florida, who acquired it there. ... That’s how it should be counted. If they're not, then that sounds to me like they’re trying to minimize their number of cases.”
If Miami is going to stop the spread of Zika, residents have to trust that the government knows what it's doing. That's why it's all the more concerning that the Florida Department of Health last week published an outright lie in a Q&A about the virus and the pesticides being used to combat it.As residents protested last week's decision by Miami-Dade County to spray naled, a controversial pesticide, over Miami Beach, the DOH last Thursday published a fact sheet titled "Frequently Asked Questions on Aerial Spraying of Naled."
Despite ample documentary evidence to the contrary, the DOH then claimed the pesticide is not banned in the European Union.
On page 2, the FAQ asks, "I heard naled is banned in Europe. Is that true?" It responds:
No that is not true. Since aerial application of adulticides for mosquito control in Europe is used very rarely, AMVAC, the company that sells naled, simply chose not to support the product under the EU Reregistration program. Since the product has not gone through the registration process to be approved for use, it cannot be used in Europe.
But that claim is demonstrably false. On May 11, 2012, the European Union announced it had evaluated naled and chose not to include it on its list of permitted pesticides.
It then goes on to say, in no uncertain terms, that an assessment conducted by French officials showed that naled posed an "unacceptable risk" to health and the environment. It added that tests did not show naled was effective enough to overcome the risks it posed.