Aug. 2, 2022 – The monkeypox outbreak has led officials in states and cities to declare public health emergencies.
California and Illinois declared such emergencies for the outbreak on Monday to speed up prevention and vaccination, according to NBC News.
The announcements mirrored similar emergency declarations made last week in New York state, New York City, and San Francisco.
The emergency declarations line up with the highest cases numbers in the country, according to the latest CDC data. The U.S. has reported more than 5,800 monkeypox cases nationwide, with 1,390 in New York, 827 in California, and 520 in Illinois. Florida and Georgia follow close behind, with 442 and 430 cases each.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said it’s time for a “whole-of-government response to monkeypox.”
“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” he said in a statement.
“We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization,” he said.
California’s emergency order allows emergency medical services personnel to give monkeypox vaccines that are approved by the FDA, which is like the recent approval for pharmacists to give vaccines, according to the announcement.
In Illinois, the emergency declaration will allow the state Department of Public Health to coordinate across state agencies and with the federal government. The 30-day order also allows the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to expand vaccination and testing.
Monkeypox “is a rare but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent the spread,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.
“We have seen this virus disproportionately impact the LGBTQ+ community in its initial spread,” he said. “Here in Illinois, we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care.”
Last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a statewide disaster emergency, which expands the pool of people who can give monkeypox vaccines to include emergency medical personnel, pharmacists, and midwives. It also allows doctors and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient-specific orders for vaccines and requires providers to send vaccine data to the New York State Department of Health.
“More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State, and we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal as we respond,” Hochul said in a statement. “It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently having a disproportionate impact on certain at-risk groups.”
In New York City, which announced a public health emergency a day after the statewide declaration, officials called the city the “epicenter of the outbreak.”
“New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak, and we estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure,” Mayor Eric Adams and Ashwin Vasan, MD, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a joint statement.
“We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more doses as soon as they become available,” they said. “This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment.”