Image source: Marca
While the country is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, another major problem has been building up – monkeypox.
The first case was reported in June with around 40 cases; but since then, the number climbed to 5,189.
Cities started declaring health emergencies with California, Illinois, Florida, and Georgia, among the states to boast high numbers.
Recently, New York became the second major city to declare monkeypox a public health emergency.
On Saturday, New York City officials declared that the city is the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, vowing to boost measures to help 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.”
According to the statement, the declaration takes effect immediately.
The announcement came a day after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order declaring a state disaster emergency.
Among other actions, the governor’s order expands the number of people eligible to administer monkeypox vaccines, requires providers to send vaccine data to the state health department, and will increase response efforts to get more vaccines and expand testing capacity.
Outside of New York, other state and international leaders have been ringing the alarm over monkeypox as infection numbers increase, resulting in vaccine supply running short due to demand.
Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci has stressed the outbreak is to be taken seriously and handled in a more rigorous manner.
Meanwhile, federal officials are still contemplating whether a nationwide public health emergency declaration is needed.
San Francisco was the first major city in the United States to declare a local health emergency.
The announcement came on Thursday to strengthen its preparedness and response amid “rapidly rising cases” and a high demand for the vaccine.
The declaration is effective August 1.
“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 they will declare the outbreak a public health emergency, according to US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“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.”
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, warned it may be too late to contain the outbreak in early July.
“The window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed,” he told CBS.
Recently, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after its second emergency committee on the issue.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.