Daughter’s Zika risk spurs Menendez call for Congressional action
EDISON - With his daughter and his not-yet-born first grandchild situated where the first locally-bred Zika virus cases proliferated, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) implored Congressional leaders to call an emergency session to authorize funds to combat it.
Menendez's daughter Alicia, five months pregnant, lives in Miami. The situation colored his remarks in Edison, where Middlesex County Mosqutio Control workers stocked DIsmal Swamp with fish that thrive on mosquito larvae.
"I'm deeply concerned for her health, her well-being, and the well-being of my first grandchild, and of all others who find themselves in the same circumstances," Menendez said. "That fear is palpable."
He delivered his comments in the same community where, a day earlier, Representative Frank Pallone (D-6) demanded action by Congressional leaders to approve the $1,900,000,000 that President Obama sought to research Zika and neutralize its spread.
Pallone estimated the number of cases nationwide to be at about 2,000, with about 80 in New Jersey.
Pregnant women who contract the disease run a high risk of miscarriages and birth defects. The most prominent is microcephaly, an abnormally small head and brain.
Pallone conceded Tuesday that about $500,000,000 is being spent on Zika research, but added that the money was redirected from funds aimed at study and prevention of other public health threats such as ebola and tuberculosis, as well as the Affordable Care Act.
"The very health and safety of our future generation is potentially at stake," Menendez concluded, "and we're not doing enough to stop it."