California, New York, Illinois declare outbreak an emergency

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) talks with Reporters after a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the US Capitol, on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak on Monday, the third US 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 US has reported nearly 6,000 cases of monkeypox across 48 states, Washington DC, 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 US 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 US New York is the Epicenter of the Outbreak in the US, with nearly 1,400 confirmed cases as of Monday.

The Biden administration is weighing whether to declare a public health emergency in the US, according to senior federal health officials. This would help mobilize resources for state health officials that are fighting the outbreak. The last time the US declared a public health emergency was in response to Covid-19 in January 2020.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal and no deaths have been reported in the US so far. But some patients suffer excruciating pain from the rash caused by 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.

Although men who have sex with men are at highest risk right now, health officials have emphasized that anyone catches monkeypox through physical contact with someone who has the rash that characterizes the virus or contaminated materials such as towels and bedsheets.

Monkeypox can also spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person has lesions in their mouth, but this requires prolonged face-to-face interaction, according to the CDC. Physical contact is the primary mode of transmission, health officials say.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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