SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency Monday to deal with an outbreak of monkeypox, making the state the third in four days to elevate its public health response to the rapidly spreading disease. .
The statement followed similar actions from New York on Friday and Illinois on Monday, and the city of San Francisco on Thursday. New York City Mayor Eric Adams also declared a local emergency on Monday.
“California is working urgently at all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and strengthened community partnerships during the pandemic to ensure those most at risk are our priority for vaccines, treatment and awareness,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to get more vaccines, raise awareness about harm reduction, and support the LGBTQ community in the fight against stigma,” he added.
These measures, which help streamline and coordinate the response to monkeypox between different levels of government, come amid a rise in infections as well as increasingly vocal complaints about the public health response.
What to know about the Monkeypox virus
What is monkey pox? Monkeypox is a virus similar to smallpox, but the symptoms are less severe. It was discovered in 1958, after outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research. The virus has mainly been found in parts of West and Central Africa, but in recent weeks it has spread to dozens of countries and infected tens of thousands of people, mostly men who have sex with men. On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
Nearly 6,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported nationwide since May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly half reported in California, Illinois and New York. The World Health Organization has already declared the virus a global health emergency.
No deaths have been reported so far in the United States and monkeypox is rarely fatal, but the rash caused by the virus has caused severe pain in some patients. The virus is primarily spread through prolonged physical contact, but it can also be transmitted via shared bedding and clothing, health officials say.
Men who have sex with men account for around 99% of confirmed cases so far. Public health officials point out that the virus can spread to anyone who has prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the rash.
The number of cases in the United States is among the highest in the world, and health officials say that figure is almost certainly an underestimate.
Federal health officials say they have not yet declared a national health emergency, in part because monkeypox is a known disease with tests, vaccines and treatments available.
But as the virus has spread and scientists have gathered research, the emerging picture has been a little more complicated than in previous outbreaks, and pressure has intensified for more aggressive measures.
Last week, President Biden’s health secretary urged states and municipalities to take more leadership, noting that most public health powers in the United States are concentrated at the local level.
“We don’t control public health in all 50 states, territories, and tribal jurisdictions,” Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, said in response to a reporter’s question about the possibility of eliminate the virus. “We rely on our partnership to work with them. They have to work with us.
California’s emergency declaration will allow emergency medical service workers to administer federally approved monkeypox vaccines.
Governor Kathy Hochul of New York issued an emergency declaration on Friday, saying the move would pressure federal health officials to send additional monkeypox vaccines to the state. On Monday, Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois followed suit, calling monkeypox “a rare but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources.”
Mr. Pritzker added that this effort would “ensure that our LGBTQ+ community has the resources it needs to stay safe while ensuring that members are not stigmatized when accessing essential health care.”