New York declares monkeypox state disaster emergency: what that means
As the virus continues to spread in the US, New York state and the city of San Francisco have introduced local public health declarations.
The spread of monkeypox in the United States continues with a number of the worst-affected regions now imposing emergency warnings. The latest to do so is New York State, where Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency on Friday night.
Hochul said she hoped the declaration would help expedite the state’s response to monkeypox and could aid the vaccine distribution effort. Her announcement came just one after the state’s Commissioner of Health, Dr Mary T. Bassett, called the virus an “imminent threat to public health.”
“I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our ongoing efforts to confront the monkeypox outbreak,” Hochul confirmed on Twitter.
NY records the most monkeypox cases of any state
Experts are still unsure why the monkeypox virus, which has been known about for decades but has rarely been seen in the Americas or Europe, is now beginning to spread more effectively. So far this year, monkeypox has been reported in 71 countries where it had never previously been identified. The virus is typically identified by the rashes and lesions it can cause on the patient’s body.
As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that New York had by far the most monkeypox cases of any state, with a total of 1,345 recorded. In a distant second was California, with a total of 799.
Hochul decided that these figures necessitated action on the state’s part and the declaration was issued using executive order. This will broaden the requirements for people able to give monkeypox vaccinations, which Hochul hopes will speed up the vaccination process and help stem the tide of new cases.
“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 explained.
NYC and San Francisco issue their own warnings
The day before Hochul’s declaration, the city of San Francisco declared a “local public health emergency” in the context of a surge in monkeypox cases in the area. As of Wednesday more than 260 cases of monkeypox had been confirmed in the city of San Francisco.
California Sen. Scott Wiener confirmed in his own statement that he had called for the declaration to be made, saying that it would give local officials more “flexibility” to combat the spread.
Wiener wrote: “State of Emergency declarations will create significant flexibility around testing, contracting for services, and administration of vaccinations. It will allow us to use all the resources in our power to contain the outbreak.”