At the request of Governor Alejandro García Padilla, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico, signaling that the current spread of the Zika virus poses a significant threat to public health in the Commonwealth relating to pregnant women and children born to pregnant women with Zika.

The declaration is a tool that provides support to the government of Puerto Rico to address the outbreak on the island and underscores the public health risk of Zika, particularly to pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week Burwell also shifted money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund Zika research, to the tune of $34 million, which is a far cry from the $1 billion requested by President Obama for the effort. Congress, now in recess, has so far reached gridlock on the issue, with Republicans’ tying the issue into ending funding for Planned Parenthood.