President Barack Obama announced Thursday a $2 billion package to help states battle the Zika outbreak, including $1.9 billion in grants to states and localities that are battling the virus.
“We need to get these states into the zone so we can stop it from spreading,” Obama said.
The president said $1 billion in federal money would be used for mosquito control efforts in the states and $1 million would be earmarked for the states to help combat mosquito breeding.
Obama also announced $1,500 for every mosquito-carrying person in the U.S. who is pregnant or has recently given birth.
The federal funds would go toward the first $1 in the next fiscal year.
The CDC reported last week that the number of people infected with Zika in the United States has jumped nearly 50 percent this year compared to the same time last year.
A number of states have declared emergency and are seeking to expand mosquito-control efforts.
“There’s no excuse for this.
It’s a public health emergency,” Obama told reporters.
He added that Zika is not a virus but a public-health issue and he’s determined to work with states to deal with the threat.
Obama said he’s also determined to “work with Congress to put people back to work and to make sure that we can protect this country from this pandemic.”
The White House said that the president’s proposal would be fully phased in over time.
Obama signed the measure Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office of the White House, a short drive from the White Houses mansion in Washington, D.C. The White Houses staff was present and Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The move came after Congress postponed a vote scheduled for Monday on a measure that would give states more flexibility to help with the Zika epidemic.