Businesses Are Freaking Out About Zika – Employees Don’t Have To Go To Latin America

JP Carroll | National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter

A survey conducted by the Department of State about how U.S. businesses and organizations are reacting to the spread of the Zika Virus shows that 38 percent of employers would allow women employees to postpone Latin America work trips.

The Feb. 12 Reuters report about the State Department survey goes on to state that, “A fifth of the 321 respondents said they were giving male employees similar options.” It is not only business travel being affected by the mosquito-borne virus but also personal trips such as those many Brazilians want to take for Carnival.

In the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, N.J., which is home to many Latinos, Pamela Clarke of Newark Community Health Centers told NJ.com, “How can you tell someone in the Ironbound not to go to Brazil for Carnival?” Clarke said. “It’s a cultural thing. They’re going to go. They’re going to say, ‘This is the time of year I go home to see my family.'”

On Feb. 8, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that “41 percent of those aware of the disease saying they are less likely to take such a trip.” In the new poll which was made up of data from Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, almost two-thirds of Americans know what the Zika virus is. American awareness of the illness is up significantly compared to the 45 percent that knew what it was toward the end of January.

While potential travelers in New Jersey may be willing to brave the risks of travelling to countries with high Zika rates, Floridians do not seem as keen on Latin American travel. Twenty percent of trips booked to the region through one Florida travel agent have been cancelled. Major airlines such as Delta, United and American are letting passengers reschedule trips without a penalty or cancel them all together if they are pregnant.

The World Health Organization declared Feb. 1 that Zika is a global health emergency. On Feb. 11, senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials testified before the U.S. Senate asking for $1.8 billion to combat the illness which can cause the deadly birth defect microcephaly, which prevents proper brain development and skull growth.

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