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Zika zone triples in Miami Beach after more cases found

Zika zone triples in Miami Beach after more cases found

Postby smix » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:56 pm

Zika zone triples in Miami Beach after more cases found
Miami Herald

URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/c ... 72102.html
Category: healthNews
Published: September 16, 2016

Description: The zone of active transmission of Zika virus in Miami Beach has tripled to now encompass two thirds of the seaside city. Gov. Rick Scott announced the expansion late Friday evening in a news release. The zone now stretches from 8th Street to 63rd Street — a 4.5-square-mile zone covering all of South and Middle Beach. The Florida Department of Health has identified five people who all experienced symptoms within one month of each other — three of them in the newly expanded area, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The evening announcement extended the nation’s second designated Zika so far north that it now covers virtually all of Miami Beach, the heart of Miami-Dade’s tourism industry as the slow summer season gives way to the busier vacation stretch of the fall and winter. By dramatically expanding the beach’s Zika zone, Scott has ramped up an area of caution that already has hotels warning of sharp slowdowns and elected leaders pleading with Florida and Washington for financial help if the region’s economy suffers the severe hit they fear might be coming. Miami Beach began the day with some unsettling Zika news: two new cases in the original zone, south of 28th Street. Hours later, Scott announced the expanded zone and a total of five cases. The number of locally transmitted cases is now 93, which includes at least 10 people who live outside the state but acquired the virus here. Mayor Philip Levine was notified by Miami-Dade officials after Scott’s news release. He told the Miami Herald that code enforcement will immediately start sweeping the expanded zone for standing water, and truck spraying of larvicide will begin Saturday. “We have a serious problem,” he said. “Once again, we must take all reasonable and safe action to eliminate this. This is a problem.” Levine said the aerial spraying already scheduled for 6 a.m. Sunday will continue to target the area between 8th and 28th streets. The governor said he was he was going to ask for more help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I am asking the CDC to provide Florida with an additional epidemiologist to support DOH’s efforts to combat and contain Zika and host a call with community leaders and clinicians in Miami Beach to answer questions and provide the latest guidance on Zika,” Scott said. The announcement will likely be followed an expanded travel advisory warning pregnant women not go to active transmission zones. In his statement, Scott said the state expects to lift the transmission zone in Wynwood, where a cluster of local cases first emerged in late July, on Monday. The lifting would come 45 days after the most recent infection in that area — a crucial countdown that has even begun in Miami Beach. Gimenez said that the new Zika zone stems from a pair of infections on Labor Day and another one five days later Sept. 9. Friday night’s news followed the confirmation of a fifth sample of Zika-positive mosquitoes trapped in South Beach. As the zone grows and public health concerns mount, Zika is already affecting the local tourist economy — with one hotel reporting its worst three-week period in the past 15 years, according to the Miami Beach city manager’s office. Since the local outbreak first was announced July 29, the county has been trying to control the mosquito population, monitoring 19 mosquito traps throughout South Beach. State officials have tested more than 52,000 mosquitoes since May in 3,200 sample groups, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. But of the five positive samples, only one location has been made public — the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, which had to close for a week to be treated for mosquitoes. On Friday, the Herald filed suit against Miami-Dade County, seeking to force the release of records indicating the locations of the other traps. South Beach has been mired in controversy since the county began aerial spraying to reduce the mosquito population. Protesters have filled City Hall twice to oppose the spraying of naled, a neurotoxin considered effective at killing the Aedes aegypti mosquito that can carry Zika. Officials say the low concentration of the insecticide does not pose a threat to people. Residents are reporting feeling ill after the spraying and seeing dead bees on the ground. The county will aerially spray naled on Miami Beach again Sunday. The target area remains the South Beach portion of the zone, from Eighth to 28th streets, from the ocean to Biscayne Bay. Gimenez has faced fierce criticism from some Beach residents and his reelection challenger, school-board member Raquel Regalado, over the aerial spraying. But Gimenez points to federal and state protocols calling for aerial spraying if mosquito counts continue to grow. On Friday, Gimenez said there were no plans to expand aerial spraying into the new transmission zone. He said that step will depend on whether mosquito populations increase in the area. “We don’t want to do aerial spraying,” he said. But, “we want to make sure we keep the mosquito count down in that area.” People worried about spraying are advised to stay inside for one hour afterward. During an afternoon conference call between Miami Beach and county officials Friday, some local hotels reported their business has taken a serious hit in the past month. Many have lost group bookings. The Fontainebleau hotel told the city manager’s office it has had its worst three weeks in 15 years. The Carillon Resort had lost $100,000 in short-term cancellations. And owners of the Mandarin Oriental — which is on Brickell Key, not Miami Beach — were concerned about bookings for Art Basel, which are not coming in at their usual pace. Art Basel is an annual art fair held in South Beach, a marquee event during the first week of December. On Friday morning, Scott authorized another $10 million in state funds to fight the mosquito-borne illness. That brings the state’s total bill to $36.2 million, a news release said. As Florida worries about Zika’s impact on public health and tourism, Congress has yet approve a funding package to bolster the state’s efforts to contain the virus. “Zika is non-partisan and I have been very clear that something had to get done this week,” Scott said in a news release, after he attended meetings in Washington this week urging lawmakers to act. “While it doesn’t look like that is going to happen, I will not wait on the federal government to protect Floridians and our visitors.” Scott’s office said the additional state money will be spent on mosquito control, increased lab capacity for testing and the purchase of Zika prevention kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Miami Herald sues county for records disclosing location of Zika mosquitoes
Miami Herald

URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/c ... 36647.html
Category: healthNews
Published: September 16, 2016

Description: The Miami Herald filed suit Friday against Miami-Dade County seeking to force the county to disclose records showing the locations where mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been trapped. Miami Beach residents need to know where the mosquitoes have been found so they can intelligently debate whether spraying a controversial insecticide over “the entirety of a 1.5 square mile densely populated area” is justified, the lawsuit said, asking for a quick hearing in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. Though the mosquito traps were set by the state agriculture department, the suit was filed against the county’s Public Works and Solid Waste Management Department, which holds — and has refused to make public — records identifying the specific location of the traps. “Given the intense public interest in the spread of Zika, and the desire of South Floridians to have as much information as possible to make their own health decisions, we believe the locations of the traps should be released,” said Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez. “Government should be as transparent as possible on this crucial public health concern.’’ A county spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit. As the county’s Zika toll rises on nearly a daily basis, with 93 local cases confirmed and government counterattacks including aerial spraying of the insecticide naled over South Beach, the secrecy over where the disease-bearing mosquitoes were found has been an increasing point of contention. The agriculture department announced on Sept. 9 that it had captured Zika-positive mosquitoes in a total of four traps — out of 19 traps placed around South Beach. But it has identified only one specific location where the mosquitoes were found: the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, which had already been closed for mosquito control. The other locations have remained secret, despite growing public protests about naled spraying and two formal Herald requests for the release of the records under Florida’s public-records law. Gayle Love, a senior division director of the county’s public works department, denied the requests, citing an exemption in the law for “information submitted in reports of diseases of public health significance to the Department of Health.” Those reports, the law says, “shall be made public only when necessary to public health.” The Herald’s lawsuit argues that the documents identifying the location of the traps aren’t “information submitted in reports” — and even if they are, their disclosure “is required by public health” so that residents living near the location of the traps can take steps to defend themselves against the mosquitoes. “The precautions, decisions and risks facing someone living or working next door to these specific locations are different than those facing someone who lives miles away — especially since this species of mosquito typically travels no more than 1,000 feet during its life cycle,” the suit said. Knowing exactly where the mosquitoes have been found is also important to the debate over the use of naled, the lawsuit contends, calling it “a chemical that some studies — and one [county] commissioner — say is a dangerous neurotoxin.” Naled has been banned in Europe and Puerto Rico. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that in small doses, the insecticide can control mosquitoes “without posing risks to people” other than some short-term skin, eye or nose irritation for those sensitive to chemicals.



Zika spraying spawns an epidemic of conspiracy theories
Miami Herald

URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/n ... 04137.html
Category: Politics
Published: September 15, 2016

Description: An offering of no good choices roused the crowd. City Hall became a cacophony of angry voices. Civic leaders were shouted down. Public health docs, with their unwelcome assessments, were interrupted by clamorous chants. “No more spraying. No more spraying. No more spraying.”

stop-poisoning-us.jpg

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tried to quiet the rabble. “Come on folks. Please. No one wants Naled.” But there’d be no decorum. The crowd was in the throes of an anti-Naled frenzy, incensed at the aerial spraying over Miami Beach meant to kill off Zika-carrying mosquitoes. No amount of talk about a public health emergency would pacify the Beach’s rowdiest commission meeting in memory. Wednesday’s gathering gave us the startling scenario of public health specialists being jeered like a pack of lying dogs with their talk of microcephaly and other terrible birth defects caused by the Zika virus. It wasn’t just that the protesters felt that the risks from the pesticide outweighed the threat from the Zika virus. They — or at least some loud element of the crowd — just flatly refused to acknowledge that Zika posed any real danger at all. “There is clear evidence that the link between Zika and microcephaly is very weak,” declared Brandon Burke, representing an anti-pesticide group that styles itself the South Florida Poison Response Coalition. Burke was hardly alone in his embrace of Google-based science. Of course, this position supposes a worldwide conspiracy among outfits like U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health England, and the World Health Organization, all of which have warned pregnant women to avoid South Florida. Apparently, public health scientists and Miami Beach politicians and the mayor of Miami-Dade County and the governor of Florida are only trying to prop up the pesticide industry with this Zika scare. There were a number of references, shouted from the gallery, to an Aug. 17 report posted at FloridaBulldog.org that Florida first lady Ann Scott had a sizable investment in a Louisiana-based mosquito control company. FloridaBulldog.org said Mosquito Control Services LLC was licensed to work in Florida but noted that the company was not currently a registered vendor with the state government. FloridaBulldog.org did not imply that Rick Scott, with the cooperation of the state’s medical community, was ginning up a fake Zika crisis to fatten his wife’s portfolio. But we live in an age of mighty leaps in feeble logic. It helps that the internet enables any of us to tailor science to fit our particular world view. Twitter (#zikahoax) and Facebook are festooned with conspiracy theories blaming the “Zika hoax” on Bill Gates, Monsanto, Big Pharm, the United Nations (in a plot to destabilize Brazil’s economy), the Rockefeller Foundation, Rick Scott and “our corporate masters” in an international plot to depopulate the planet. But the crowd at Miami Beach City Hall was not only against pesticides. When a representative from the British bio-tech company Oxitec told the commission that his company could reduce the local population of the culprit Aedes aegypti by more than 90 percent using genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes, it was as if he had suggested sacrificing small children. A swarm of sexually inadequate bugs sounded better to me than getting bombarded with pesticides, but this crowd was apparently wanting an organic, grass-fed, free-ranging, no GMO, chemical-free alternative. The real problem, as Mayor Levine and a few commissioners tried (futilely) to explain to their unreceptive constituents, was that since Gov. Scott has declared a state of emergency, Florida law invests the state and (to a lesser extent) the county with the power to decide how to beat down the virus. “It’s out of our control,” Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman said, inspiring another chorus of jeers. Commissioner Michael Grieco introduced a resolution to file a lawsuit to stop the county and state from spraying Naled. The city’s lawyers warned that not only would the suit likely be tossed out of court, but that the city would be stuck with lawyers’ fees. The resolution died without a second from one of his fellow commissioners. (“I feel lonely up here,” the commissioner said, but he added that an outpouring of support on social media assured him that “I am not alone.”) The spectators responded approvingly to Grieco, who looked quite self-satisfied in his role as martyr of the Zika wars. Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said, unhappily, that at the moment, spraying was the only realistic weapon that could stanch the Zika outbreak. She said, “Someone has to be the grownup here.” The crowd, howling in derision, disagreed.



Health department doing free Zika testing in South Beach
Miami Herald

URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health- ... 68057.html
Category: healthNews
Published: September 13, 2016

Description: People who live and work in South Beach stopped by police headquarters Tuesday to get tested for the Zika virus. The Florida Department of Health is testing people for free in the community room of the Miami Beach Police Department, 1100 Washington Ave., from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. On Wednesday, testing will continue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m. The test is available to anyone who works or lives in the area, not just pregnant women. Those wanting to get tested must bring a picture ID to prove they live and/or work in the zone where mosquitoes are actively spreading Zika. The Miami Beach zone stretches from Eighth to 28th streets, from the ocean to Biscayne Bay.



Zika takes bite out of Miami-Dade economy — how bad will it get?
Miami Herald

URL: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/busines ... 48577.html
Category: Business
Published: September 9, 2016

Description: Six weeks after Zika officially landed in Wynwood, the virus has taken a bite out of Miami-Dade County’s economy — and it’s no mosquito-sized nibble. Downtown Miami hotel bookings are down. Airfare to South Florida is falling. Business owners in affected areas report steep losses. Polls show many visitors would rather stay away. As the weeks progress, the impact won’t be limited to tourism. Real estate, dining and retail depend on South Florida’s attractiveness as a destination. Small businesses need locals feeling confident, too. With Zika cases confirmed in South Beach, can Miami’s sun-and-fun brand survive a sickness for which a vaccine is still years away? “It’s a major threat to all of Florida’s economy,” said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida. “Suddenly, young people are going to think twice about going to Miami or families going to theme parks in Orlando. I think this is going to hang over Florida’s economy certainly through the end of 2016 and probably beyond,” unless Zika is eradicated quickly. Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood, with its outdoor restaurants and public art, has been hit hardest. Public health officials announced mosquitoes were spreading the virus, which also is sexually transmitted, in and around Wynwood on July 29. They labeled a one-square mile area as a Zika zone and issued a federal travel advisory, the first of its kind in the United States. The advisory is a scarlet letter for shops and restaurants. Despite visits by Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Gov. Rick Scott — and giveaways like free parking — business has plummeted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it could lift the advisory (which applies to pregnant women and their partners) on Sept. 19, if no new locally contracted cases are discovered. Every business owner in Wynwood has that date circled on a calendar. The sting hasn’t been as severe in South Beach, the heart of local tourism, where the virus was discovered in a 1.5-square mile-area Aug. 18. While outdoor tables sat mostly empty on Labor Day, Lincoln Road has generally been busy on the weekends: Tourists who booked expensive vacations months ago are unlikely to cancel. But experts worry if Zika sticks around, the virus will scare away visitors who haven’t yet made reservations for the winter season. Top credit agencies believe harm to Miami-Dade’s tourism sector is inevitable. “If we are still talking about this in November, December, leading up to Art Basel, that will be telling,” said Scott Berman, a Miami-based tourism analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Miami-Dade’s crucial meeting business is what most worries the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Since late August, a growing number of 100-person groups have canceled trips to Miami for 2017. Outside the Zika zones, small businesses are hurting. Felipe Correa has run a tour business, Tourstoyou.net, for 15 years. “My Miami tour basically collapsed ... all of my pre-arrival reservations canceled,” said Correa, who runs tours in Miami, Key West and the Everglades. “This tour goes out once a week and I had to cancel eight out of my 12 weekly summer season tours,” he said. He had to lay off one employee. No one wants to think about what would happen if a third Zika zone is identified in Miami-Dade, as investigators look into at least six cases that occurred outside of the existing transmission areas. “The dollar is strong, the global economy is relatively weak and that’s already taken demand out of our tourism sector,” said Mekael Teshome, an analyst at PNC Bank who was surprised to see an informational poster about Zika at Charlotte’s airport on a recent business trip. “That tells you how concerned the public is,” he said. There were 56 confirmed cases of non-travel related Zika in Florida as of Thursday. Because local tourism feeds into so many businesses, the ripple effect could hurt worker incomes in other industries, as well as reducing sales and hotel tax revenues, Teshome said. “Floridians have less money to spend when there’s less money coming in,” he said. Travelers already are avoiding South Florida. Coco Lewis of Connecticut has celebrated her October birthday for the past three years by staying with more than a dozen friends and family at the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel on Collins Avenue. This year? “We don’t want to chance it,” said Lewis, 23, who will party in Vegas instead. “It’s just too risky.” The evidence is more than anecdotal. In August, leisure airfare prices fell 17 percent year-over-year at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to an analysis by Harrell Associates. Fares for top routes at the nation’s other airports rose 4 percent over the same time period, the firm found. And hotel bookings in greater downtown Miami fell by nearly 3 percent in the first three weeks of August compared to last year, according to data collected by analytics firm STR. While it’s not clear how much of that decline is attributable to Zika — struggling economies in Latin America and more hotel rooms on the market aren’t helping the numbers either — bookings trended slightly up before the outbreak. But a strong end to August is painting a brighter picture: More visitors meant downtown Miami’s hotel numbers for the entire month finished just 0.3 percent lower than last year. “It’s a race against the clock for public officials,” Teshome said. “If they can contain the virus quickly before the peak winter season, we could see confidence come back.” Analysts won’t have a full picture of Zika’s impact until early 2017.
Wynwood woes
At Coyo Taco, the popular Mexican joint with a late-night bar, owner Sven Vogtland said he lost 70 percent of his customers immediately after Zika hit Wynwood. He’s had to cut hours for his kitchen and wait staff, although business has lately picked up. Still, he’s concerned about tourists crossing Miami off their lists. A poll conducted Aug. 18-24 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 48 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable traveling to Zika infection areas within the U.S., including Miami. “The people coming out are the locals, the familiar faces,” said Cesar Morales, who owns Wynwood’s outdoor bar Wood Tavern. “But it seems like visits from tourists [are] way down.” After Zika was announced, the bar’s crowds dipped from as many as 400 people at peak hours to 100 or 200. “If these numbers go on for three to four months, that will be devastating,” Morales said. Many business owners blame the media for over-hyping Zika’s threat. The virus produces minor symptoms in most patients. Some don’t even know they’re sick. Pregnant women and people of child-bearing age are most at risk because Zika can cause a severe birth defect in babies called microcephaly. Despite worries about Zika during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, visitors didn’t suffer from an outbreak. “There has got to be better connection between the journalists and the headline departments,” said Joe Furst, chairman of the Wynwood Business Improvement District, which represents about 440 businesses in the district employing an estimated 4,000 people. Wynwood Walls, a popular outdoor event space and tourist draw, typically gets three bookings a day this time of year, said Furst, who is also a managing director at the company that owns the Walls, Goldman Properties. But in the last five weeks, there have been just three total bookings, he said. (The BID has asked the city for money to compensate for Zika’s impact.) Furst attributed the economic downturn to the decision to “box off” the Zika zone in Wynwood, calling it “the single greatest failure of the state government.” Aileen Marty, a physician and infectious disease expert at Florida International University, said boxing off an area for intensive mosquito control efforts makes sense. But assuming mosquitoes were only spreading Zika in limited areas was foolhardy, Marty added. “That’s not the way disease works,” she said. “The rest of the world realizes it’s bigger than just Wynwood or South Beach.” The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has classified all of Miami-Dade as an area of “widespread transmission.” The United Kingdom has advised pregnant women to avoid Miami-Dade for non-essential travel and said they should also consider postponing non-essential travel in the rest of Florida. In the U.S., the CDC has warned pregnant women to avoid both Wynwood and South Beach, and has said they might want to consider postponing non-essential travel in Miami-Dade. The long-term impacts of the virus still aren’t known. Marty said everyone in South Florida should wear bug spray with DEET to protect vulnerable coworkers and friends. “You’re literally doing mosquito control when you wear repellant,” Marty said, because mosquitoes feed on human blood. Many locals doubt the disease has been contained. “There are no fences to stop people or mosquitoes from traveling in Miami, right?” said Jose Goyanes, who owns a barbershop and beauty supply store in downtown Miami. Zika is also hurting South Florida’s luxury real estate market, already slumping because of weak foreign currencies. While Latin American buyers are accustomed to Zika — the virus is prevalent there — those from New York and Europe are more afraid. “The South American buyers think our level of concern is ridiculous,” broker Danny Hertzberg said. “They feel it’s much safer here with the air conditioning and the spraying.” But Hertzberg said younger couples from New York have canceled or rescheduled trips to visit South Florida. “With an already challenging market, it’s definitely an area of concern,” he said. Senada Adzem of brokerage Douglas Elliman said on a recent business trip to Europe, Zika was the first thing clients brought up in each of 15 meetings. “I think psychologically people are concerned,” Adze said. “And I think Zika concerns are affecting the brand of not just Miami, but also Florida. ... Zika is a deal-breaker for clients who plan to have children.” The disease will likely hibernate through the winter, if it’s not eliminated. It could then reappear when mosquitoes return in the spring. At the end of the day, taxpayers will pick up the bill for anti-mosquito spraying and financial relief for troubled businesses. Miami-Dade officials expect to spend an extra $10 million fighting Zika through the summer, money that county commissioners otherwise hoped to use for affordable housing. The city of Miami approved $247,000 for special events meant to draw customers back to Wynwood. And the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is surveying local businesses about economic damage sustained because of Zika. Meanwhile, Congressional gridlock has stymied federal funding.
Miami? No thanks
Businesses that serve people who plan to have children, such as wedding planners and nanny services, have front-row seats to the outbreak’s impact. Lisi Korn, owner of Bay Harbor Islands-based Forever Events wedding planning service, said a couple from California spent several months planning a destination wedding in Miami only to cancel. The couple is having the nuptials in California instead. “It’s a little hyped up ... just like everything that’s new and just like everything that is unknown,” said Korn, who tells couples they can move their wedding indoors. Sharon Graff Radell’s nanny service, TLC for Kids, has also seen a steep decline. Graff Radell said TLC babysits for families staying at hotels and resorts, often to celebrate weddings, but cancellations started coming in when Gov. Scott announced travel-related cases of Zika had been discovered in February. “[The families] told us it was because their wives were pregnant and they were nervous to come to Miami,” Graff Radell said. Business has plummeted by about 25 percent, she said, hurting her staff. Phones have gone quiet for TLC’s newborn service that helps new moms learn how to care for their babies. “We used to get calls every couple of weeks for a mom coming in town having her baby and now we haven’t gotten any in months,” Graff Radell said. “No calls at all.” Few want to be associated with the disease. One entrepreneur who is infected with Zika declined an interview. She fears her business will suffer if her diagnosis became public.
South Beach buckles down
On South Beach, government and private industry figures are desperate to prevent another Wynwood scenario from spreading to the city’s tourism jewel. Planes fly over beachgoers baring the new South Beach mantra: “Use insect repellent. No Zika.” A mock movie poster at the Regal South Beach Stadium 18 on Lincoln Road promotes the message from Miami-Dade mosquito control: “MOSQUITOES … The only way to stop them.. Drain & Cover.” The SLS South Beach hands out Zika kits to each guest. Area hotels spray regularly. And $400,000 vacuum trucks find new use as standing water eliminators, sucking out water from storm drains where mosquitoes can collect and breed. “The public works team has been working nonstop … they really haven’t had a day off,” said Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola. So far, Miami Beach’s efforts to keep tourism flowing are working. Metrics are up on most of the key indicators for Beach hotels during the weeks following the Zika announcement, according to numbers provided by STR and the tourism bureau. Bookings were up 7.4 percent year-over-year since the first Zika case was detected in South Beach. And the major local cruise lines — Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line — have reported no impact from Zika. All offer alternate itinerary options or cancellations for pregnant women traveling to Zika-affected areas. On Lincoln Road following Labor Day, some restaurant managers said the weekend was slow, but Zika wasn’t fully to blame. “September is a really slow month,” said Bill Croft, general manager of Spris Pizza restaurant. “And the Zika will definitely not be helping.” At the Café at Books & Books on Lincoln Road, general manager Layne Harris said it was business as usual on Labor Day. “I haven’t heard anybody say, ‘I haven’t been here because of Zika,’ not one person,” Harris said. “We have fans everywhere and the fans really help … keep the mosquitoes away.” Ashley Gibson, 26, celebrated her bachelorette party at the Fontainebleau Hotel in July before the Zika news broke. She said she would come back to South Florida, as long as she and her soon-to-be husband weren’t planning to have children anytime soon. But she’s worried about the virus spreading to her home in Houston. “We have mosquitoes swarming all over,” Gibson said.
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