Monkeypox outbreak: The U.S. government declares the disease a public health emergency
The US federal government has declared monkey pox a public health emergency. Why now and what does this mean for the response?
Monkeypox is spreading across the country, with only a few states yet to report any cases.
Various states, including California, Illinois, and New York, have declared a state of emergency, and they are now joined by the federal government.
Very little has been released about what this announcement will mean for the government response. Robert Fenton, who has been appointed White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, spoke about how the federal government is “applying lessons learned from the battles we’ve fought – from COVID response to wildfires to measles, and will tackle this outbreak with the urgency this moment demands.”
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra did tweet saying that he would make the declaration of a public health emergency and that the country is “prepared to take our responsibility to the next level in addressing this virus.”
We are still in the covid era, and the government wants to avoid people underplaying the level of threat monkeypox poses to the country’s health.
When infected with monkeypox, people can suffer from debilitating pain from the sores and blisters that can occur all over the body. While the virus is less fatal than covid-19, patients may not be able to return to the workplace or school within five to ten days.
By declaring a public health emergency, the government can ‘significantly scale’ vaccine distribution, testing, and treatments and “conduct robust outreach to stakeholders and members of the LGBTQI+ communities.”
How many cases have been reported?
The CDC has reported 7,102 monkeypox cases, with the states reporting the highest number of patients being New York (1,748), California (826), Florida (577), and Illinois (571).
Unlike covid-19, there is already an approved vaccine for monkeypox, and the U.S. has distributed “more than 602,000 doses of the JYNNEOS.” These numbers are increasing, and Secretary Becerra announced: “that [HHS] has accelerated the delivery of an additional 150,000 doses to arrive in the U.S. next month.”
Cities around the country are beginning vaccine rollout, and those who belong to groups at increased risk of infection should consider researching and signing up.