US declares monkeypox a public health emergency

(CNN) — President Joe Biden’s administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, as cases surge in the United States.

The announcement was made during a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) briefing.

The government has been criticized for its handling of the outbreak, to the point that some have called on the administration to declare a national emergency without delay.

Politics was the first media outlet to announce its intention to make the statement.

The first case of monkeypox in the United States was identified in mid-May. And, since then, they have detected more than 6,600 probable or confirmed cases in the country. In fact, every state is reporting infections except Montana and Wyoming.

The measure is in line with the precedent of the World Health Organization which declared monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO explains that this classification refers to “an extraordinary event” which poses a “public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease” and “which potentially requires a coordinated international response”.

Certain cities and states, including the city of New York, San Francisco, California, Illinois and New York have already declared monkeypox an emergency. This allows them to access funds and resources for their responses to the outbreak.

New findings on monkeypox 2:26

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden named Robert Fenton as the national coordinator for the White House response to monkeypox. Fenton, a Federal Emergency Management Agency regional administrator who oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the deputy coordinator.

Some public health experts have harshly criticized the Biden administration for not moving faster to deal with the crisis.

One of these reviews CNN reported a few hours earlier this Thursday, was that HHS waited more than three weeks after the first confirmed case in the United States to order bulk supplies of monkeypox vaccine — which the government owns and stores in Denmark — to be bottled and shipped. in the country for distribution. The delay was partly due to fears that once the vaccines were taken out of storage, they would lose years of shelf life.

Which countries are most affected by monkeypox?

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but most cases in this outbreak in the United States are in men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men, and people who identify as transgender. According to experts, close contact with an infected person is necessary for the monkeypox virus to spread.

The CDC initially announced that monkeypox vaccines would be released from the strategic national stockpile and offered to “high-risk” contacts of patients with the disease, as well as health care workers who treat them. Since then, federal health officials have expanded vaccination efforts to focus on the broader community of men who have sex with men, the demographic that accounts for the majority of cases.

Why will monkeypox cases increase in the United States?

In addition to providing vaccines, the CDC has said since June that it has made a concerted effort to provide broad education and outreach to the LGBTQ community.

CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht contributed to this report.

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