New York Governor Hochul declares a state of disaster emergency over monkeypox

People wait in line to register for a monkeypox vaccination on July 29, 2022 in New York City.

John Smith | Corbis News | Getty Images

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency on Friday night due to the continued spread of monkeypox.

She said the emergency declaration would lead to a faster response and better distribution of vaccines. It came a day after the New York State Commissioner of Health declared monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health”.

“I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to bolster our ongoing efforts to deal with the monkeypox outbreak,” Hochul tweeted Friday.

Hochul said the state is an emerging center for the virus, which manifests in symptoms of rashes and lesions all over the body, extremities and genitals.

New York has recorded the most virus cases nationwide – 1,345 – followed by California with 799, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention updated last Friday.

“More than one in four cases of monkeypox in this country are in New York State, and we must use every tool in our arsenal to respond,” Hochul wrote.

The emergency, enacted by executive order, allows emergency medical services personnel, pharmacists, midwives, physicians and certified nurse practitioners to administer vaccines, the governor’s office said in a statement.

The state was already securing more vaccines, expanding testing and disseminating information through a website and text notification system, the governor’s office said.

On Thursday, Hochul said a new allocation from the federal government would mean an additional 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for the state, for a total of 170,000 so far.

The governor stressed the importance of getting vaccines to neighborhoods and communities affected by rapid spread.

“It is particularly important to recognize how this outbreak is currently disproportionately impacting certain at-risk groups,” she said in the Friday evening statement.

The virus, transmitted by physical contact, can develop flu-like symptoms and its initial effects can last up to four weeks.

Because men who have sex with men are among the cohort most at risk from the virus, the World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended that people in this group limit their number of sexual partners as a precautionary measure.

Cases of monkeypox have been reported this year in 71 countries where it was previously unknown or unreported, according to the CDC.

The United States has recorded 5,189 cases this year, CDC data showed on Friday.

Oh Thursday, the city of San Francisco declared its own health emergency because of the virus.

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