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CDC Official: ‘Thousands’ May Already Be In U.S. With Zika Virus

Figure a noted increase from last week’s estimation of 157 infected nationwide.


Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AFP/Getty Images
Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AFP/Getty Images

As the U.S. braces for what could be a widespread epidemic in the coming summer months, federal health officials said today that they believe thousands of people may have contacted the Zika virus before returning to the country.

Speaking before a panel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anne Schuchat said the Zika virus represents “a phenomenal problem” for experts as they attempt to understand its potential impact globally and domestically.

“The reality is one bite, and if you’re pregnant, your baby might be harmed,” Schuchat said at the panel, who previously lobbied in support of the Obama administration’s proposal that Congress allocate $1.9 billion to combat the mosquito-borne virus.

Last Friday, the CDC released a statement confirming that 157 women in the United States and another 122 in U.S. territories had tested positive for infection from the virus, marking the first time the department officially disclosed contraction figures since the virus’ outbreak first began in early 2015.

As summer approaches, officials are issuing dire warnings that mosquito eradication efforts, lab tests, vaccine research, and other suggested methods to combat its potential spread may not be able to catch up.

Common symptoms of the virus include fevers, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, with approximately one in five people infected showing visible symptoms.

More disturbingly, the virus has also been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a defect characterized by a malformed/smaller head and brain, resulting in serious developmental delays.

Schuchat said in particular at today’s panel that health officials are greatly concerned about the possibility for the virus to be locally transmitted from infected travelers to neighboring misquito populations, who can then infect others.

“We’re not starting in a good place,” she said, “We used to have a lot stronger mosquito control and mosquito surveillance. We really have a patchwork nation around mosquito capacity. The local governments are really concerned.”

While it was officially estimated at the panel that approximately 500 people in the U.S. were found to have likely been infected with Zika, since 80 percent of people with an infection do not visibly show symptoms, the CDC is preparing itself for the probability that thousands may have arrived in the U.S. unaware that they were infected.

CDC: 157 Pregnant Women In U.S. Test Positive For Zika Virus

Agency discloses first findings on deadly epidemic’s spread into the U.S. ahead of summer months


Credit: CDC.gov
Credit: CDC.gov

No walls or sloganized rhetoric will stop the spread: the Zika virus has officially begun it’s infiltration into the U.S.

It was announced Friday morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 157 pregnant women in the United States and another 122 in U.S. territories have tested positive for infection from the Zika virus.

The announcement marks the first time that the agency had disclosed the number of infected pregnant women in the U.S. and it’s controlled territories with the disease, which first began with an early 2015 outbreak in northeast Brazil.

Health officials have stressed repeatedly that it was a matter of time before the virus made its way north, warning in early Spring that mosquitoes carrying the virus would make many cities and regions highly susceptible.

U.S. map created by NASA scientists to better target future search-and-destroy missions for potential Zika outbreaks Credit: CNN
U.S. map created by NASA scientists to better target future search-and-destroy missions for potential Zika outbreaks
Credit: CNN

It is not presently known where in the country the infected cases are concentrated, however earlier reports warned that the cities with the highest potential risk include Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee in Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana.

It is believed at the time that all of the U.S. infections occurred in women who had traveled abroad or, in rare cases, were infected by sexual partners previously exposed to the disease.

Health officials said previously that the virus, spread through mosquitos and sexual contact, causes microcephaly, the birth defect distinguished by a small head size which leads to severe developmental problems in babies.

President Obama is currently engaged in a partisan battle with congressional Republicans in his pursuit of $1.9 billion to fight the epidemic, which has caused GOP Senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio to break ranks with his party, saying “I hope there is a real urgency about dealing with this. There is no such thing as a Republican position on Zika or a Democrat position on Zika because these mosquitoes bite everyone. And they’re not going to ask you what your party registration is or who you plan to vote for in November.”

House Republicans Argue Against Reproductive Rights For Women With Zika Virus In Developing Nations

At a congressional hearing about the Zika virus and its spread from the developing world, House GOP members spoke out against efforts to provide contraception and abortion access to women who have become infected by the viral strain known to cause severe birth defects.  The $1.8 billion in emergency aid requested by President Obama may be derailed over fears that it will be used to provide abortions.

The Zika virus is transmitted from person to person by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is understood to be linked to microcephaly when pregnant women contract the disease, a congenital abnormality which causes developmentally stunted children born with abnormally small heads.  21 countries have seen cases of the virus, many in South and Central America. 4,000 children born have been born with microcephaly in Brazil since the first confirmed case nine months ago.

In January the government of El Salvador, which does not allow legal access to abortions, advised women to avoid becoming pregnant until 2018 to prevent a public health epidemic.  Other South American nations have issues similar advisories.  Yet women still need increased access to contraception to prevent pregnancy and women who are already pregnant have few options.



Laura Bassett from the Huffington Post writes:

The problem in El Salvador’s case is that women who are already pregnant and contract the virus are still subject to the nation’s complete ban on abortion, which has already put dozens of women behind bars for murder. Health workers worry the law could drive many desperate women infected with Zika to seek dangerous, back-alley procedures.

“Imagine you’re pregnant already, and then you discover you have this virus, and then you discover that this virus causes this condition in the fetus,” said Anu Kumar, executive vice president of the global abortion rights non-profit IPAS. “Then you’re faced with the decision of, what do you want to do with this?”

Kumar, speaking at the International Conference on Family Planning in Bali, Indonesia, said the Zika situation highlights the public health problems that severely restrictive abortion laws cause. An estimated 47,000 women a year die from unsafe abortion complications.

While the U.S. is prohibited by law from providing financial or material assistance with abortions in foreign countries, Democrats urged a push for contraception aid in South and Central America.  The GOP did not agree, however, and would not speak on the contraception issue, with Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) urging the women of endemic countries to “welcome babies born with microcephaly” because they can “go on to lead very normal lives.”

“Each child is made in the image of God and has inherent worth,” he said.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) quoted the title of a BBC piece, “Microcephaly: ‘It’s not the end of the world,” indicating that the U.S. should wash its hands of responsibility for reproductive rights in affected nations and concentrate on stopping the spread of the mosquito-borne virus and care for the disabled children that result from it.

U.N. health officials have indicated we could expect as many as 4 million Zika infections in Latin America by the end of the year at the rate it is spreading.  They have urged lawmakers in the Americas to lighten their restrictions on abortion.  While some leaders have agreed it can be done in Brazil and Colombia, religious officials in these largely Catholic nations still hold the power to block changes in reproductive rights.

Full Story At Huffington Post

Brazilian Lawmakers Want Harsher Penalties For Abortion In Facing The Zika Epidemic

In a report published today by Time magazine, Matt Sandy reported on the plans of Brazilian lawmakers to increase the penalties for abortion, despite the pleas of international bodies such as the UN to legalize abortion during the Zika epidemic.

Brazil, like many Latin American nations affected by Zika, does not allow abortion except in cases where rape can be proven, the mother’s life is at risk, or if the child will not survive.  Women who have contracted the Zika virus are at risk of their unborn children developing the congenital abnormality microcephaly, a condition where the child is developmentally stunted and born with an unusually small head.

While the Pope has suggested that the Catholic Church’s longstanding ban on contraceptives should be loosened to combat the effects of Zika such as it did in the 1960s rape epidemic in the Congo, the threat of contracting microcephaly remains for women who are already or will soon become pregnant. And despite the Pope’s pressure to allow women and couples extra reproductive rights, the evangelical movement in Brazil has not eased its stance and seeks to reaffirm its prohibition on abortion with harsher sentencing.

“Abortion is not the answer to the Zika virus, we need to value life in whatever situation or condition it may be,” Sergio da Rocha, the president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, said last week.  The Catholic and Pentecostal churches have stressed that children living with microcephaly can still be loved and cared for.

Women in Brazil currently face one to three years in prison for undergoing an abortion or self-aborting.  Doctors face one to four years for performing abortions on consenting women and face up to ten years if the woman has not consented.  The law now being drafted in Brazil would increase the maximum sentence to 15 years

“With the crisis that has hit our country a feminist movement has tried to take advantage to change our abortion laws,” says the bill’s author Anderson Ferreira, a member of Brazil’s lower house from the Republic Party. Ferreira represents the state of Pernambuco, the epicenter of the outbreak of thousands microcephaly cases that may be linked to the Zika outbreak. “This movement needs to be confronted,” he adds. “Everyone needs to realize the gravity of the crime that is abortion and that it is not acceptable.”

The illegal status of abortion in Brazil has nonetheless not prevented it from occurring.  Sources used by Time estimate 850,000 women per year have illegal abortions, many of which are dangerous to the health of the woman. In 2013 around 200,000 women were hospitalized for complications from illegal abortion.

Economic inequality causes vast disparity between access to abortion services in a country where wealthy women can pay for a safe abortion but an estimated 95% of abortions are risky.  Doctors used by poor women are often ill-trained members of criminal networks operating in unsafe conditions.

Source: Time

USWNT Sues U.S. Soccer For Equal Pay

Women’s Team earned significantly less than the male players last year

Five of the biggest names on the team listed on the lawsuit 

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2016, file photo, United States goalie Hope Solo walks off the field at half time of a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament soccer match against Mexico in Frisco, Texas. The U.S. women’s national soccer team held meetings while in Texas recently for its Olympic qualifying tournament to discuss the Zika virus with doctors. “All I can do is speak for myself. If the Olympics were today, I would not go,” Solo reiterated during the tournament. “Fortunately, the Olympics are six months away. So, I believe we have some time to get our doubts and questions answered. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2016, file photo, United States goalie Hope Solo walks off the field at half time. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo, five of the biggest names on the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) and reigning 2015 World Cup champions, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday, demanding equal pay for equal work and calling for an official investigation of what they believe to be the Federation’s discriminatory wage practices.

The complaint from the five superstars, coming less than nine months after the team hoisted up the gold trophy at the 2015 World Cup, emphasizes they were taking action on behalf of the entire national team.

Every single day we sacrifice just as much as the men. We work just as much,” standout forward Morgan explained on NBC’s “Today” Thursday morning. “We endure just as much physically and emotionally. Our fans really do appreciate us every day for that. We saw that with the high of last summer. We’re really asking, and demanding now, that our federation, and our employer really, step up and appreciate us as well.”

According to espnW, the discrepancy in earnings is astonishing; if women win each of the minimum 20 friendlies they are required to play annually to be eligible for the World Cup and the men lose the same number of matches, the men’s side still earns more than the women’s team, with men getting at least an additional $5,000 for each contest they play over that baseline. The women receive no additional pay for additional games played.

“I’ve been on this team for a decade and a half, and I’ve been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly, not much has changed,” Solo said. “We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it.

“In this day and age, it’s about equality. It’s about equal rights. It’s about equal pay. We’re pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s our responsibility for women’s sports and specifically for women’s soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect.”


Perhaps the most grotesque double standard came in the performance earnings from each of their respective finishes in the World Cup.

While the men pocketed $9 million after reaching the round of 16 in their 2014 World Cup before losing to Belgium, the women pulled in just $2 million for marching all the way to the winner’s podium.

The U.S. Soccer Federation’s response was swift, albeit deliberately ambiguous:

“While we’ve not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we’re disappointed about this action,” the U.S. Soccer Federation stated in response to the filing. “We’ve been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we’ve made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

For the USWNT, it would seem the complaint isn’t merely about money but about the message attached. As the women broke record after record last summer, as they captivated audiences around the world, after being told by POTUS that they are “badass,” they are still, predictably so, treated and compensated as lesser-than their male counterparts.

“The numbers speak for themselves. We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships,” said Solo “and the men get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

WATCH: Donald Trump Says Women Should Be Punished For Abortions

Questioned by MSNBC host Chris Matthews about whether he is believes women should be punished for having abortions, Donald Trump responded that he does believe “there has to be some form of punishment.”  He would not specify whether by punishment he meant jail time or some other penalty.

During a pre-recorded town hall event Wednesday afternoon, the Hardball host pressed the Republican presidential frontrunner to clarify his abortion stance, an issue that has many evangelical voters concerned about the candidate’s pro-life credentials.

“If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law,” Matthews reminded Trump.  Donald responded that he believes there should be a ban on abortion and that women will probably still seek abortion if it is passed.  Those women would receive punitive action.  He just can’t say yet what. That would “have to be determined.”

Men would not be punished for abortion, Trump also told Matthews.

“You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it,” Trump said, when asks what would happen if abortion is banned.

The spread of the Zika virus in the hardline anti-abortion countries of Central and South America has brought the issue of illegal abortions and economic injustice into the public spotlight in recent weeks, highlighting the relative ease in which wealthy women are able to get illegal abortions which are more safe than not, whereas poor women often endure extremely unsafe health practices, risking jail and death.

According to Matthews, positions from the pro-choice movement that we haven’t heard in a while resurfaced for him as he interviewed Trump.  How is it fair for a woman whose options are to raise a child without resources or else face a potentially deadly procedure that has been criminalized?  Can’t there be another choice for her?

According to pro-life news source LifeNews, even extreme anti-abortion advocates are put off by Trump’s lack of knowledge and clear stance on the issue.  In their latest pieces, they accuse Trump of hurting the pro-life movement.  About the Chris Matthews interview, LifeNews published “The Inept Thing Donald Trump Said About Women Who Have Abortions is Making Pro-Lifers Cringe,” which included the statement:

While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected under law and abortions are banned, the pro-life movement has historically opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill in abortions.

About the interview, Matthews said on MSNBC, “I think he’s sort of put up the pro-life flag without really given it the focus he’s given to immigration or ISIS[…]”

“His answers are fascinating,” Matthews said, not wanting to give away the entire interview which will air before the Town Hall tonight. “People will find out something tonight that they don’t want to hear.”

Ted Cruz has long-been stirring the pot for his competitor, alleging that Donald’s “New York Values” will never make him tough on abortion, like in these comments he made to a Yahoo News reporter before the Iowa primaries:

“Donald explained that he was very very pro-choice and supported partial-birth abortion. And he explained the reason for that is that he was a New Yorker and those are the views of the people of New York,” Cruz said. “He similarly explained how he was open to gay marriage … and again he explained that he was a New Yorker and that’s — you had to understand that. … He has New York views and he explicitly contrasts that and says those are not Iowa values.”

Trump is facing the public’s response to a video interview he made in 1999 in which he claims, “I am pro-choice in every respect.”

The Trump quote which pro-life bloggers and pundits are using again and again is as follows:

“Well, look, I’m — I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject, but you still — I just believe in choice,” said Trump. “Again, it may be a little bit of a New York background because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country. And, you know, I was raised in New York, and grew up, and work, and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice and yet I hate the concept of abortion.”