Florida Gov. Rick Scott and top officials with the Centers for Disease Control made a stop in South Florida Thursday to visit the epicenter of Miami-Dade's fight against the Zika virus, which they said is going well.
Aerial spraying of an insecticide to kill adult mosquitoes was underway just before sunrise Thursday morning, the first aerial attack since the Zika virus hit Miami. Health officials had issued travel advisory for pregnant women in a one-square mile where Zika infections were believed to be occurring.
"We feel comfortable now in that one-mile radius, we can take 10 blocks in the northwest corner and say we don't believe there's any active transmission of Zika," Scott said at a news conference.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, joined Scott in the Wynwood neighborhood for an up-close look at eradication efforts.
"I am very impressed with how intensive the control activities are. They have got over 100 teams in the field," Frieden said. "The key message ... is get rid of anywhere this mosquito can breed."
There have been 15 locally acquired non-travel related cases of Zika, including 12 in Wynwood. One case is still being investigated, and two others were isolated incidents. The Department of Health has no ongoing cases in Broward and there are no active non-travel related cases.
The area being sprayed was about 10 square miles, from 38th Street south to 20th Street and from Northwest 5th Avenue east to Biscayne Boulevard. The area includes trendy Wynwood, home to most of South Florida's Zika cases.
"You really have to understand how this particular mosquito spreads. It's very local and focal, it is a particular area, a particular mosquito. It does not travel more than about 150 meters, 500 feet in its life," Frieden said.
Crews on the ground are continuing their spraying efforts, and community centers are stressing basics like mosquito spray and proper attire.
"We've tested over 2,400 people in the state, we've tested 340 people in the Wynwood area for active Zika or Zika antibodies," Scott said.
Frieden siad the insecticide being sprayed is safe and kills mosquitoes that pesticides on the ground can't reach.
While the CDC represents federal involvement in the fight to prevent Zika from spreading, President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Congress to come back from summer recess to pass funding dedicated to protecting Americans from the virus.
"Without sufficient funding, (National Institutes of Health) clinical trials and the possibilities of a vaccine, which is well within reach, could be delayed," Obama told reporters.
Meanwhile, elected leaders converged on Wynwood. Members of Congress, the governor and the county's mayor are confident in the efforts to rid the area of mosquitos, and Zika.
"This is like a moving target every day and I am watching every day because for the epicenter to be in District 24 has caused me much pause," Rep. Frederica Wilson said.
The investigation also expanded into a neighborhood in southwest Miami-Dade, where there was a possible Zika case reported.
"Yesterday we announced that there was another case unrelated to this area that we are investigating, so that is separate from the current one-mile area," Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip said at Thursday's news conference. " We'll go through the same process where we'll talk to a lot of people, get samples from that area before we have enough data to make any additional conclusions from that area."
Officials with the Department of Health wouldn't say exactly where the case was reported but residents of one neighborhood said they received letters from health officials.
The letters said officials "are trying to determine if mosquitoes in the area may be causing some people to get Zika. We are hoping to talk to people in about 100 houses in this area."
It added: "If you agree, we will ask you questions about your exposures to mosquitoes and your health. We would also like to collect a urine sample."