The move by two of the country’s worst affected regions comes after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency last weekend.
San Francisco and New York state declared public health emergencies on Thursday amid the growing outbreak of monkeypox, the latest in a series of escalating measures in response to the fast-spreading virus.
The measures in two of the worst-hit areas come after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency last weekend and as the Joe Biden administration weighs a national emergency declaration.
More than 40% of the country’s 4,907 confirmed monkeypox cases have occurred in California and New York.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, announced a local public health emergency on Thursday, noting that monkeypox cases had nearly doubled to 261 in a week. He said the measure will mobilize resources, expedite emergency planning and allow future expenses to be reimbursed by the California and federal governments.
California State Sen. Scott Wiener, who called for the emergency declaration, said the decision would make it easier to expand testing and vaccines and pressure the federal government to take action. epidemic more seriously.
“It’s a powerful statement to the country and the world about the need to act decisively and firmly,” Wiener said in an interview.
After New York state recorded more than 1,200 cases, state health commissioner Mary T. Bassett declared an imminent threat to public health on Thursday, retroactive to June 1.
“This statement means that local health departments involved in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional state reimbursement, after maximizing other federal and state funding sources, to protect all New Yorkers. and ultimately limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities,” Bassett said in a press release.
Monkeypox infections result in an illness that lasts for several weeks with symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can spread all over the body. No deaths have been reported in the United States, but some patients have reported severe pain from the injuries.
The epidemic has been largely concentrated among men who have sex with men. Gay leaders like Wiener and veteran HIV activists have urged health authorities to act decisively to contain monkeypox and prevent a repeat of the mistakes of the AIDS crisis, when the suffering of gay men and the world was minimized. he did not act quickly. Vaccines are thought to be effective before and after exposure, and an antiviral approved for a closely related disease, smallpox, can be used to treat monkeypox.
Local officials, including Breed, say the vaccine supply is not sufficient to provide shots to everyone at high risk of exposure.
“Our declaration of urgency is to ring the alarm bell and make it very clear that we desperately need more vaccines and more treatments,” Breed said Thursday.
Monkeypox is mainly spread through close contact, and experts believe skin-to-skin exposure during sexual activity is a major source of transmission in the current outbreak. But they warn the virus is spread through other forms of contact and can circulate outside the gay community, pointing to a handful of cases in women and children.
WHO officials have advised men who have sex with men to temporarily reduce their number of sexual partners in a bid to reduce transmission. The announcements from New York and San Francisco did not include containment measures or restrictions intended to slow the spread.
“We’re not applying behavioral restrictions or other measures like we’ve done with COVID. It’s about having the resources and the ability to move quickly to deploy those resources,” Breed said in a statement. message, explaining the urgency.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Thursday that authorities have not made a decision on a national emergency declaration, noting that the virus has not yet become as potent a threat as the virus. coronavirus. Becerra highlighted the vaccines and treatments the Biden administration has continued to ship to local health departments and providers, including some 800,000 doses that federal authorities have authorized for distribution this week.
“We will weigh any decision about declaring a public health emergency based on the response we see across the country,” Becerra told reporters during a briefing. “At the end of the day, we have to get ahead and be able to end this outbreak.”
Federal officials have spent the week arguing privately over whether to declare an emergency, with some top health officials saying it would raise public awareness of the outbreak and allow for a more robust response, including requiring hospitals to communicate more data on patients with monkeypox.
But other White House and health officials have raised questions about declaring an emergency in the United States, saying it would be mostly symbolic and create pressure to declare additional emergencies for other issues such as than abortion, which advocates have sought. HHS also continued to renew the two-and-a-half-year public health emergency declaration for the coronavirus, despite calls from some conservatives to end it.
Washington Post – Fenit Nirappil
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