The city of San Francisco and New York state declared public health emergencies Thursday amid the growing monkeypox outbreak.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the risk of monkeypox to the general population remained low, but declaring a public health emergency would allow the city to mobilize resources and accelerate emergency plans to respond to the growing number of cases. Monkeypox infections in the city have almost doubled in the last week, he noted.
“We know that this virus affects everyone equally, but we also know that those in our LGBTQ community are at higher risk right now,” Breed he said in a Medium post. “The most critical need right now is more vaccines. The federal government distributes the vaccine to state health departments, and then the California Department of Public Health allocates the vaccines to counties, such as San Francisco. We have no control over the number of vaccines we receive.”
“San Francisco needs more support and we need more action,” he added. “That is why we are declaring a Local Emergency.”
In New York, which has so far recorded 1,251 cases of monkeypox, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said posed an imminent threat to public health throughout the state.
“This declaration means that local health departments involved in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional state reimbursement, after other federal and state funding sources are maximized, to protect all New Yorkers and ultimately, limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities.” he said she in a statement.
The remarks came after the World Health Organization said the growing outbreak of monkeypox it was an “extraordinary” event that he called a global emergency, saying it had spread to more than 70 countries. The disease spreads primarily through close physical contact with an infected person, and nearly all known cases so far have been in men who have sex with men.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has stressed that the US must work to reduce stigma surrounding monkeypox, noting that it can circulate in any community.
Monkeypox has been confirmed in nearly every state, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that more than 40% of cases they have occurred so far in New York and California. There have been no deaths attributed to the outbreak, but some people report severe pain after becoming infected.
People wait in line to receive the monkeypox vaccine on July 17 before the opening of a new mass vaccination site on the Bushwick educational campus in New York City. (Photo: KENA BETANCUR via Getty Images)
The Biden administration has considered declaring monkeypox a public health emergency and can appoint a White House coordinator to oversee the federal government’s response. The Food and Drug Administration said this week that there approved an additional 800,000 doses of vaccines to distribute across the country, greatly expanding supply for vulnerable communities. But those numbers still worry some public health experts who fear there won’t be enough to meet the huge demand.
“We will weigh any decision about declaring a public health emergency based on the response we are seeing across the country,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Thursday. “The bottom line is: we need to get ahead of this and be able to end this outbreak.”
In New York state, where demand has far outstripped available vaccines, gay and bisexual men have been faced a slow release of shots that has drawn comparisons to the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The state is scheduled to receive an additional 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine amid the latest FDA rollout, 80,000 of which will go to New York City.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.