In fact, Americans were more worried about Ebola in 2014 and the swine flu in 2009 than they are about Zika today. Southern states with a higher risk of Zika were no more likely to be worried about the virus than the rest of the country, with the exception of Florida and Texas, which were slightly more concerned. Overall, though, most of America seems to be giving the threat of Zika a collective shrug.
On Tuesday, Texas health officials said a baby died of Zika after contracting it in the womb after its mother's trip to Latin America. It's one of only a handful of Zika deaths in this country so far.
And yet most Americans — 69 percent — say they are "very" or "somewhat" confident in the government's ability to respond to a Zika outbreak, according to The Post-ABC News poll.
So, seems about as good a time as any for a reminder:
First there was a debate over how much to spend on the health problem. President Obama and his health advisers asked Congress for $2 billion this spring; fiscally cautious House Republicans countered with an offer of $620 million; they settled on $1 billion (with a lot of cuts elsewhere, such as to still-unused Ebola money, to help pay for it).
Next, there was a big blowup in the Senate over what else was in the bill. Congress-ing 101 is to put in other goodies for a politically unpopular bill so it has enough support to pass. What House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) put in that chamber's version of the bill — cuts to the Affordable Care Act, limits on how federal grants could be used to offer services like birth control Puerto Rico — did not fly with Senate Democrats, who blocked the bill in dramatic fashion in late June.
Both sides felt wronged, and both sides left Congress in July for a seven-week break, blaming each other.
Democrats have tried to keep that furor going over the break. Senate Democrats' campaign arm released a memo this week that claimed Republicans' decision to leave Congress without passing funding for Zika "is perhaps the greatest sign yet that the Republicans, and their irresponsible penchant for reckless partisan obstructionism, are simply not working."
Republicans say it was Democrats who committed the "partisan obstruction" and that the administration already has enough money to start combating Zika (though the nation's top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, warned Tuesday that they're running out of money).
While we doubt many — if any — voters even know about Democrats' memo, it offers a glimpse of what we can expect to hear from the party's Senate candidates on the campaign trail. On the surface, talking about Zika seems to be smart messaging. Arguing that Republicans let the ball drop on protecting Americans from the virus fits with Democrats' broader message that Republicans spent the past year and a half governing Congress without much to show for it.
Americans' feelings about Congress are another story entirely. But if Senate Democrats want Zika to become a successful campaign issue, they're going to need a lot more Americans to worry about getting infected.