Local public health and elected officials today announced the declaration of a local health emergency to respond to monkeypox in the San Diego area.
The action does not indicate that residents of San Diegan are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, but it is intended to reassure the public that local health officials are working proactively to stay ahead of the curve. any challenges that may arise. The local health emergency must be ratified within 7 days, by the County Board of Supervisors, and then must be re-ratified every 30 days, as needed.
“Our county has taken monkeypox very seriously from the beginning and those efforts will continue,” said Chairman Nathan Fletcher of the County Board of Supervisors, who was joined by other elected officials to announce the statement. “Today, the county is declaring a local monkeypox health emergency to align our efforts with the approach taken by the State of California. This will also allow us to strengthen initiatives for vaccination, prevention, education and treatment of our county.
The declaration of a state of emergency empowers the county to:
- respond more effectively to monkeypox
- seek and use state resources for vaccine administration
- leverage public health infrastructure related to testing, contact tracing and case investigation, and community outreach and engagement
- ensure that the health professionals of the department and other local actors have all the necessary tools
“All of these strategies have been developed and reinforced during the COVID-19 response,” said Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH, county public health officer. “To prevent the community-wide spread of monkeypox infection, the key is prevention, and that includes vaccinations.”
The county has already taken several steps to address this emerging threat. It has worked with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community to develop messages, educational materials and to administer the limited number of vaccines arriving in the region. The county also communicated with other local jurisdictions and community organizations.
The county hosted a forum, mass vaccination clinics and many other outreach efforts. To date, 3,987 doses of monkeypox vaccine have been received in San Diego County.
As of August 1, a total of 46 confirmed and probable cases have been reported. Only one patient required hospitalization and there were no deaths. All cases were male and their ages ranged from 27 to 58 years. The region’s case count will now be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
Two vaccination events have already taken place, where more than 1,400 monkeypox vaccines were administered over four days. The county has also made vaccine doses available to local health care providers. Some doses of monkeypox vaccine are also available at county public health centers and STD clinics.
The county also distributed 110 courses of Tecovirimat, a drug used to treat monkeypox, to local health care organizations and county clinics.
Given the scarcity of the monkeypox vaccine and in accordance with California Department of Public Health guidelines, the county is focusing on getting the first doses to as many high-risk individuals as possible. For the current outbreak, this includes men who have sex with multiple male partners and close contacts of reported cases. The county’s approach is consistent with strategies in other major jurisdictions dealing with monkeypox outbreaks, including New York and San Francisco.
The state allocates vaccines to counties based on the number of monkeypox, as well as the number of early male syphilis cases reported in an area.
The county also set up a text alert system to send San Diegans real-time information about monkeypox in the area. To sign up to receive messages, text COSD MONKEYPOX to 468-311. A social media messaging and education campaign is underway to raise awareness of monkeypox.
For more information on monkeypox, how to prevent it, who should get vaccinated, visit the county’s Monkeypox website or dial 2-1-1.