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US Labor Department awards $6M to aid recovery effort in Puerto Rico following Zika virus outbreak
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the funding of a $6 million National Dislocated Worker Grant initial award to the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources to employ temporary workers to assist with recovery efforts after the Zika virus outbreak in the commonwealth.
This initial award will enable Puerto Rico to create jobs needed temporarily to assist with the immediate and critical tasks associated with mosquito control, which are coordinated efforts to suppress the “Aedes aegypti” mosquito to prevent or interrupt the spread of Zika. These tasks include removing areas where mosquito lay eggs and repairing septic systems.
Local authorities reported Puerto Rico’s first Zika virus case on Dec. 15, 2015. As the number of cases grew, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency of national significance on Aug. 12, 2016, for all municipalities of Puerto Rico. This declaration made the commonwealth eligible for NDWG emergency assistance. As of Sept. 21, 2016, Puerto Rico had 19,395 confirmed Zika cases.
The NDWG program is part of the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s discretionary fund. The department awards grants based on a state or territory’s ability to meet specific guidelines.