San Francisco officials on Thursday declared a state of emergency due to the increasing spread of monkeypox in the city.
In a statement, Mayor London Breed said the virus does not spread as easily as Covid-19 but “this is the first time it has spread to so many countries at once, and we are seeing an increase in cases in San Francisco.”
The announcement will allow Breed and other officials to pool resources to combat the virus. So far, the city has confirmed 261 monkeypox cases, and has called itself the epicenter of the virus.
Health officials expect the number to increase in the coming weeks. Part of the problem is the lack of vaccines. Health officials requested 35,000 doses a few weeks ago, but have received only a third of the request.
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“The most critical need right now is more vaccines. The federal government distributes vaccines to state health departments and then the California Department of Public Health distributes to counties like San Francisco,” Breed said. “We have no control over the amount of vaccine we get. San Francisco needs more support and we need more action. That’s why we’re declaring a local emergency.”
The most affected section of the city is the LGBTQ community, officials said.
“Additionally, our Latino community accounts for 30% of the cases, even though Latinos make up only 15% of our population,” Breed said. “So we know where the people most at risk are, and we know what we need to do — which is get them more vaccines.”
The emergency order will take effect from Monday and must be approved by the Board of Supervisors within a week.
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The committee has agreed to meet next week to consider the measures.
The move comes as the Biden administration considers declaring a public health emergency over monkeypox in the coming days.