Feds are scaring visitors away from Puerto Rico

Why can't federal health officials just stick to the facts about Zika?

"Ground Zero?" "Pandemic?" "Hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika virus in Puerto Rico this year?" "Puerto Rico is not prepared!"

None of the statements above reflect the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico.

So why doesn't the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("Mothers and mothers-to-be assess the risk from Zika, take precautions," May 22) stick to just facts? That's all we are asking. The CDC has an obligation to report factual, relevant information to "protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S." As the CDC states in its mission, it saves lives and protects people from health threats. Nowhere in its mission, however, does it state that its objective is to be accomplished through fear. We applaud the CDC's work on Zika and its critical science and health information that keeps us safe from disease and death, but we are deeply disturbed by its continued messaging machine of speculation and hype that has the ability to destroy economies.

Tourism represents 7 percent of Puerto Rico's gross domestic product. Throughout the recession, tourism has been the only industry that has consistently shown signs of growth. That means more jobs, more paychecks, more opportunities. Why would we undermine one of the only industries that will help Puerto Rico recover in its critical time of need? Responsible dissemination of health information is one thing, but Zika messaging with its editorial embellishment has moved into fear mongering, resulting in detrimental actions that have negative consequences for our industry and Puerto Rico's economy.

Let's stick to the facts and report it that way and let the informed tourist decide.

Clarisa Jiménez, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The writer is president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association.

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