Image source: Marca
While the country is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, another serious problem has emerged: monkeypox.
The first cases were reported in June with about 40 cases; but since then the number has risen to 5,189.
Cities have started reporting health emergencies, with California, Illinois, Florida and Georgia among the states with most numerous cases.
New York on Saturday became the second major city to declare monkeypox a public health emergency.
On Saturday, New York City officials said the city was the epicenter of the state’s outbreak and pledged to take further steps to slow the spread.
“We estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure, ” said Mayor Eric Adams and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s health and mental hygiene department in a joint statement.
“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.”
The declaration took effect immediately.
The announcement came the day after the New York government Kathy Hochul issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency.
The governor’s order, among other things, expands the number of people eligible to administer monkeypox vaccines, requires providers to submit vaccine data to the state health department, and will increase response efforts to obtain more vaccines and expand the testing capacity.
Outside of New York, other state and international leaders have sounded the alarm about monkeypox as the number of infections rises, leading to an insufficient supply of vaccines due to demand.
Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have stressed that the outbreak needs to be taken seriously and dealt with more rigorously.
Meanwhile, federal authorities are still assessing whether a national public health emergency declaration is required.
San Francisco was the first major city in the United States to declare a local health emergency.
The announcement was made on Thursday to bolster preparedness and response to “rapidly rising cases” and high demand for vaccines.
The declaration goes into effect from 1 August.
“We know that this virus impacts everyone equally – but we also know that those in our LGBTQ community are at a greater risk right now,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
“Many people in our LGBTQ community are scared and frustrated. This local emergency will allow us to continue to support our most at-risk, while also better preparing for what’s to come.”
The federal government continues to monitor the monkeypox response in Washington.
Based on the outcome, the government will consider whether the outbreak should be declared a public health emergency, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said.
“We will weigh any decision on declaring a public health emergency based on the responses we’re seeing throughout the country,” he said on Thursday.
“Bottom line is, we need to stay ahead of it and be able to end this outbreak.”
Doctor Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, warned in early July that it might be too late to contain the outbreak.
“The window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed,” he told CBS.
The World Health Organization recently declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after holding its second emergency committee on the subject.