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Health Insurer Donates $100K To Harris County To Fight Zika

Judge Emmett says the state of Texas will provide resources in case of a local outbreak.

Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge; Ken Janda, CEO of Community Health Choice; Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health; and Doctor Ann Barnes, Chief Medical Officer at Legacy Community Health, attended a press conference held to announce the $100,000 donation from Community Health Choice to Harris County.
From left to right: Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge; Ken Janda, CEO of Community Health Choice; Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health; and Doctor Ann Barnes, Chief Medical Officer at Legacy Community Health, during the press conference held to announce the $100,000 donation from Community Health Choice to Harris County.

Community Health Choice, a Houston-based non-profit health insurance company, is stepping up to the plate to confront the Zika virus in Harris County by donating $100,000 to the county’s public health department.

Dr. Umair Shah leads that department, which is in charge of trying to control the mosquito populations in Houston, and in the rest of the county, and has also undertaken public information campaigns about the Zika virus.

Shah said the donation will certainly help continue those efforts.

“We’ve already spent $1.1 million on Zika response since January of this year and $100,000 may not sound like it’s going to completely right the ship, if you will, but every single penny counts,” Shah said.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill to fund Zika preparations and response operations. Ken Janda, CEO of Community Health Choice, partly addressed that during the press conference held to announce the donation.

“We are glad that the federal government is continuing to talk about funding but Judge Emmett has challenged us and the whole community to say: We need to help ourselves in this process, we can’t just wait for other people to do that,” noted Janda.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said at the press conference the fact Zika can be sexually transmitted is an additional concern.

He also noted that if it’s discovered the virus is being transmitted by local mosquitos the state of Texas would provide resources to confront a local outbreak.

Some pregnant women who live in Houston say the virus has them worried.

Such is the case of Victoria Eljach, who is originally from Colombia and is 30 weeks pregnant with her first child. She says Zika is impacting her life.

“I don’t travel, which is something I do a lot. I’m not going to Colombia. I didn’t go to Colombia during this summer. I had a trip to Mexico, to Playa del Carmen, and I had to cancel it as well. I use mosquito repellent all the time, I try to stay inside, indoors,” Eljach explained.

The Montgomery County Public Health District reported Thursday its first Zika case, in a pregnant woman who recently traveled to a country with active transmission of the virus.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Digital News Producer

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz is originally from Madrid (Spain). He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree...

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