May 25, 2016

CONTACTS: Tim Zink, 410-962-4436/Sue Walitsky 202-224-4524

Cardin Discusses Urgent Needs for Zika Virus Readiness with Public Health Experts from throughout Maryland  

Forum at The Johns Hopkins Hospital brings together state and local officials, international organizations, physicians and researchers from University of Maryland, National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health 


BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, recently convened a distinguished group of public health leaders and practitioners, researchers, state and local officials, non-governmental organizations and businesses to discuss ways to ensure that Maryland is ready for the Zika virus, a growing pandemic.

“The Zika virus is not some nebulous foreign threat. It is already on U.S. shores, and in Maryland. While Congress has made some recent progress on advancing funding measures to combat the spread of Zika virus throughout the continental United States, the funding is likely inadequate to fully meet the public health community’s needs, and may come too late to be as effective as possible,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee. “We have got to do more, and we’ve got to do it faster. That’s not only my opinion – that’s the opinion of just about every expert engaged on the subject, and everyone in a position to fight the spread of the disease. Congress needs to listen to the advice of the scientific community and do more now, while we still have a chance to potentially save and improve many thousands of lives.”


Experts including Howard Haft, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen; health officers from Howard, Frederick and Anne Arundel counties; Johns Hopkins Medicine; Johns Hopkins University; the University of Maryland Medical Center; MedStar Health; the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital; the National Institutes of Health; the Maryland Hospital Association; international development organizations; and several companies engaged in the development of promising vaccines and treatments came together with Senator Cardin to discuss statewide Zika response.


 “The scientific community, public health experts and administration officials have advised Congress that $1.9 billion is needed for issues ranging from response and treatment to prevention and research. The Senate’s $1.1 billion clearly doesn’t get us there, nor does the even weaker House Republican plan of $622 million. What’s more, we failed to replenish critical funding to our Ebola preparedness, which the Administration was forced to rely on due to Congressional inaction,” said Senator Cardin. “In the face of a growing public health emergency, it is imperative that Republicans join Democrats in putting people before politics. We were already behind in responding to this global pandemic, and now we are clearly poised to come up short of an adequate response. The American people deserve better from their elected leaders.”           

AUDIO and VIDEO of Senator Cardin’s recent remarks from the floor of the Senate on Zika virus are available for download.