President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a Zika virus research and vaccine program on Monday, setting up a key test for the first time since the virus emerged in Brazil in the spring of 2016.
The order also directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create the Zika virus control task force within the National Institutes of Health.
The task force would be tasked with coordinating federal and state efforts to control the spread and control of Zika, the virus that is transmitted through mosquitoes and which has been linked to birth defects, birth defects and other health problems.
The group would be made up of the heads of the CDC, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Science Foundation.
A White House official told reporters the administration has been working closely with scientists and industry experts to identify the best ways to stop Zika.
In announcing the new plan, Trump said the new group would focus on developing and testing vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for Zika.
He said it would be staffed with scientists, medical experts, and “vibrant and energetic” advocates of the idea.
The new task force was first proposed by Trump and was endorsed by Vice President Mike Pence.
It is meant to coordinate efforts among the CDC and other federal agencies to develop and test vaccines and other preventive measures, according to a White House statement.
The White House has said the goal is to begin testing for Zika by March, though it has said that could change if there are complications in the first two months of the new testing period.
The Trump administration also said it will issue new guidance for how to use the $1 trillion federal health program for the needy in April.
In the meantime, there is no indication the government will start issuing birth certificates to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years, though that is a possibility.
Trump has repeatedly touted his pledge to end “birth tourism” as part of his strategy to contain the spread.
In June, he called for the creation of a “birth registry” for undocumented immigrants, but he has said he would wait to set a birth date until there is better information about Zika.