Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra said Thursday that the monkeypox outbreak is declaring a public health emergency.
“In light of the evolving situation on Earth, I am declaring a public health emergency over #monkeypox,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are ready to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously.”
The monkeypox outbreak infected more than 6,600 Americans. The emergency declaration frees up federal money and other resources to fight the virus, which causes fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. A public health emergency can be extended, similar to what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House said it made more than 1.1 million vaccine doses available and helped boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests a week.
Monkeypox infections in India have reached 9, two days after the first infection
Last week, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency in more than 70 countries. A global emergency is the WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not mean that a disease is particularly contagious or deadly.
California, Illinois and New York have all made announcements in the past week, as have New York City, San Francisco and San Diego County.
The monkeypox virus is transmitted through prolonged and intimate skin-to-skin contact as well as sharing bedding, towels and clothing. Health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone, but so far people who have fallen ill have mainly had sex with men.
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Earlier this week, the Biden administration named top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House coordinators to combat the monkeypox outbreak.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.