WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the monkeypox outbreak to speed efforts to combat the virus.
- California is the third state to make an emergency declaration after New York and Illinois.
- Newsom’s declaration allows emergency medical personnel to administer FDA-approved monkeypox vaccines.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak on Monday, the third U.S. state to do so in a matter of days.
Newsom said the emergency declaration would help support the state’s vaccination efforts. Demand for the vaccines has outstripped supply as infections rise. Staff at sexual health clinics and other sites have struggled to keep up with the influx of people seeking the shots.
California is mobilizing personnel from its Emergency Medical Services to help administer the vaccines. Newsom said the state is working across all levels of government to slow the spread through testing, contract tracing and community outreach.
California’s declaration comes after Illinois declared a public health emergency earlier Monday. New York declared a state disaster emergency in response to the outbreak late Friday.
The U.S. has reported nearly 6,000 cases of monkeypox across 48 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak has spread swiftly since health authorities in Boston confirmed the first U.S. case in May.
California, Illinois and New York – home to the nation’s three largest cities – have reported 47% of all confirmed monkeypox infections in the U.S. New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., with nearly 1,400 confirmed cases as of Monday.
Monkeypox is rarely fatal and no deaths have been reported in the U.S so far. But some patients suffer excruciating pain from the rash caused by the virus. Scientists and public health officials are worried monkeypox could circulate permanently in the U.S. if the outbreak isn’t contained.
The WHO declared monkeypox a global health emergency last month. More than 19,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in at least 78 countries, according to WHO data. The outbreak is unusual because the virus is spreading widely in North America and Europe. In the past, monkeypox spread at low levels in West and Central Africa where rodents and other animals carry the virus.
Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sex. Gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk of infection right now, public health officials say. About 98% of patients who provided demographic information to clinics identified as men who have sex with men, according to the CDC.
But health officials have repeatedly emphasized that anyone can catch monkeypox through physical contact with someone who has the rash that characterizes the disease or contaminated materials such as towels and bedsheets. The CDC last month confirmed the first two U.S. cases of children catching the virus, likely through transmission within their families.