TOP STORIES White House declares monkeypox a public health emergency

White House declares monkeypox a public health emergency


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Declaring a state of emergency frees up resources to fight the monkeypox outbreak. There are currently over 6,600 cases in the US.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Declaring a state of emergency frees up resources to fight the monkeypox outbreak. There are currently over 6,600 cases in the US.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The White House today declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

“We are ready to take our response to the next level in the fight against this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.

A public health emergency could trigger grant funding and open up more resources to various aspects of the federal response. It also allows the secretary to negotiate contracts for medical supplies and other necessary medical supplies and equipment, as well as maintain ambulance services in hospitals, among other things. Public health emergencies last 90 days but may be extended by the Secretary.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the declaration will provide resources and expand access to health care. She also said it would enhance CDC’s ability to share data.

Some are calling for a federal public health emergency, saying it will signal to the country that this is a serious outbreak.

So far there has been more than 6616 cases found in the US, but this is probably an underestimate. Most cases in the US are concentrated in the gay and homosexual community, primarily among men who have sex with men.

In the current outbreak, the vast majority of people contract the virus sexually. However, the virus can be spread in other ways, including face-to-face contact with someone or touching a contaminated surface, but evidence shows that this is extremely rare and occurs mostly in the home. Experts say it takes long exposure or large amounts of virus to get infected this way.

Scientists are also looking for evidence that the virus can be transmitted through semen.

The focus of the Biden administration in response to the outbreak has been vaccinating those at high risk of contracting the disease, but critics say vaccine availability has been limited and has been slow to come online.

The administration says it has made more than a million doses of JYNNEOS vaccine available to states and territories on order.

The governors of California, New York and Illinois have already declared a state of emergency over the monkeypox outbreak. Some cities, including New York and San Francisco, have also declared a state of emergency.

The World Health Organization has already declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. There are currently over 26,000 cases worldwide.

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