WASHINGTON (AP) — US declares public health emergency to step up federal response to monkeypox outbreak More than 6,600 Americans have been infected, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The announcement frees up federal funds and other resources to fight the virus. The virus can cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and acne-like bumps on many parts of the body.
The declaration comes at a time when the Biden administration faces criticism over the availability of a monkeypox vaccine. Clinics in big cities such as New York and San Francisco have not received enough double-dose vaccine to meet demand and have had to stop offering double-dose vaccines to ensure supplies of the first dose. He said it didn’t.
The White House said it enabled more than 1.1 million doses and helped boost the country’s diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.
The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged close skin-to-skin contact, such as cuddling, snuggling, kissing, and sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. Those who have gotten sick so far have been mostly men who have sex with men. But health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone.
The announcement comes three days after the Biden administration named senior officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House coordinators for combating the monkeypox outbreak.
News of the expected declaration was first reported by Politico on Thursday.
Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University, said such declarations are an important and overdue step.
“It shows the seriousness and purpose of the U.S. government and sets alarm bells around the world,” he said.
Under the declaration by the Department of Health and Human Services, officials can withdraw emergency funds, hire or redeploy staff to deal with the outbreak, and take other steps to control the virus.
A public health emergency may be extended, similar to what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gostin said the US government was being too cautious and should have declared a nationwide emergency sooner. Public health measures to control outbreaks have faced increasing legal challenges in recent years, but Gostin didn’t expect that to happen with monkeypox.
“This is a textbook case of a public health emergency,” Gostin said. “This is not a Red State or Ao State problem. There is no political opposition to fighting monkeypox.”
The government’s decision comes after other countries have made similar declarations.
Last week, the World Health Organization called monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases occurring in more than 70 countries. A global emergency is WHO’s highest level of alert, but this designation does not necessarily mean that the disease is particularly contagious or deadly.
California, Illinois, and New York all made declarations last week, as did New York City, San Francisco, and San Diego counties.