Baton Rouge, La. - Senate Candidate Foster Campbell joined with U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Burwell in calling on Congress to return to work to craft a bipartisan bill to address the threat of a Zika virus outbreak today. 

HHS Secretary Burwell said in a letter Thursday that some of the funding for vaccination development and other preventative measures will run out by the end of the month. 

"It's unacceptable that members of our congressional delegation who constantly preach about family values left Congress without fully funding the effort to keep pregnant women and our unborn babies safe," said Campbell. "I'm calling on them to go back to work immediately to fully address the situation and practice what they preach." 

At least 14 cases of Zika contracted here in the United States have been diagnosed in parts of Florida. Mosquitos in the area where transmission occurred are species that also populate portions of Louisiana. 

"I'm sick of hearing how this is the fault of Republicans or Democrats or whoever. These politicians owe it to our people to get the problem solved," said Campbell. 

In May Campbell issued an open letter on the looming threat of Zika, and urged Lousiana's congressional delegation to take immediate action to fully fund an effort to prevent a Zika outbreak here at home. In the letter he noted that Congressman Cedric Richmond has taken the correct, solution-driven approach to dealing with the Zika threat. The text of that open letter which Campbell issued in May is below: 

To Whom It May Concern: 

I am not an expert on infectious diseases but I know something about leadership. Louisiana’s Senators have failed to protect the people of Louisiana from the threat presented by the Zika virus. As families across the region look to our elected officials for better leadership in the issue, my own daughter – who is pregnant and a New Orleans resident – is at the center of the coming Zika crisis. Our most vulnerable people deserve better from their Senators. 

With one-million confirmed cases in the Caribbean and Central and South America, the health and safety threats of Zika are real. Louisiana’s Senators have failed to take up for our people in the fight to bring our tax dollars home to combat Zika. Their silence is deafening. Their inaction is dangerous. They have not provided leadership.

Mosquitos that carry and transmit Zika are already more concentrated in New Orleans and other gulf coast cities than anywhere else in the United States. Our ports are entry points for tourists and workers that will inevitably carry the Zika virus deep into the state.

Our senators voted to support a weak funding plan to fight the virus and finance an eventual vaccine – a plan that is months late and $800 million short of the minimum needed. And worse yet, they’ve done nothing to stand up to the members of the U.S. House from Louisiana who supported an alternative plan to underfund the Zika fight by more than a billion dollars.

Our Congressmen have done little to stand up to bullies who refuse time and time again to address the vulnerabilities our state faces as a coastal link between the United States and the rest of the world. But we can do better. At least one member of our Congressional Delegation, Congressman Cedric Richmond, has been talking about and working for solutions in our fight against Zika for months.

Louisiana is America’s gas station. We are its power plant. We are its leader in trade. But I refuse to allow Louisiana to be forgotten when it comes to our needs. I’m running for U.S. Senate to bring our tax dollars home, to take care of our own, and I’ll never back down from a fight to do what’s right for our people. This is about protecting our unborn children who will suffer if Zika is allowed to go unaddressed.

I call on all of Louisiana’s congressional delegation to do the same. I will never play politics with the health and safety of our people to appease party leadership or for any other reason. Our people are constantly sold out by our elected officials. I’ll fight for your family and mine – because we are all one Louisiana family.   

-Foster Campbell, PSC and Candidate for U.S. Senate

Ira Wray