The Obama Administration wants Congress to put $1.8 billion in emergency funds towards fighting the Zika virus in the United States and abroad.
"There is much that we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas," the White House said in a Feb. 8 press release. "Congressional action on the Administration's request will accelerate our ability to prevent, detect and respond to the Zika virus and bolster our ability to reduce the potential for future infectious disease outbreaks."
The Department of Health and Human Services would receive most of the proposed funds at $1.4 billion. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention would receive the largest portion of the designated funds.
“The requested resources will build on our ongoing preparedness efforts and will support essential strategies to combat this virus,” the White House explained.
Meanwhile, the State Department and the Agency for International Development would received a combined total of $376 million.
Through the State Department, affected Americans abroad would receive assistance, while through the Health and Human Services Department, money will be provided to “[enhance] the ability of Zika-affected countries to better combat mosquitoes and control transmission.”
In addition, about $250 million would go toward aiding pregnant women in Puerto Rico, where a state of emergency has been declared.
The money will also go toward vaccine research, educating medical providers, and other efforts to fight the outbreak and prevent it from spreading.
However, President Obama urges Americans not to panic over the outbreak like the world did over Ebola in 2014.
"The good news is this is not like Ebola, people don't die of Zika -- a lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it," Obama said, reports CBS.
“There shouldn't be panic on this,” he added. This is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously.”