A state of emergency has been declared in California due to the spread of monkeypox

SACRAMENTO — Gov. California’s Gavin Newsom declared a monkeypox emergency on Monday, the third in four days to prompt the state to ramp up public health measures against the rapidly spreading disease.

The declaration follows similar actions by New York on Friday and Illinois on Monday and San Francisco on Thursday. New York City Mayor Eric Adams also declared a local state of emergency on Monday.

“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure we focus on vaccines, treatment and outreach to those most at risk.” Newsom said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with the federal government to provide more vaccines, raise awareness about risk reduction, and work with the LGBTQ community to combat stigma,” he added.

The moves, which help to streamline and coordinate the anti-monkey response at different levels of government, come amid rising infections as well as growing public health concerns.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been nearly 6,000 cases of monkeypox in the country since May, with about half in California, Illinois and New York. The World Health Organization has already declared the virus a global health emergency.

No deaths have been reported in the United States so far, and monkeypox is rarely fatal, but the rash caused by the virus has caused severe illness in some patients. The virus is primarily spread through prolonged physical contact, but it can also be spread through shared bedding and clothing, health officials said.

Men who have sex with men accounted for 99 percent of confirmed cases. Public health officials stress that the virus can be transmitted to anyone who has prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the rash.

The U.S. has one of the highest rates in the world, and health officials say the rate is nearly inadequate.

Federal health officials say they have not declared a national public health emergency because monkeypox is a known disease for which tests, vaccines and treatments are available.

But as the virus spreads and scientists gather research, the emerging picture is a bit more complicated than previous outbreaks, and pressure for more aggressive measures has mounted.

Last week, President Biden’s health secretary urged states and municipalities to take more initiative, noting that most health care authority in the United States is concentrated at the local level.

“We do not control public health in all 50 states, territories and tribal jurisdictions,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in response to a reporter’s question about whether the virus could be eradicated. “We believe in our partnership to work with them. They have to work with us.”

California’s emergency declaration allows emergency responders to administer federally approved monkeypox vaccines.

Gov. Cathy Hochul of New York said the emergency was declared Friday, a move that would force federal health officials to send additional monkeypox vaccines to the state. On Monday, Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois called monkeypox “a rare but serious disease requiring the full mobilization of all public health resources.”

Mr. Pritzker added that this effort “will ensure that our LGBTQ+ community has the resources it needs to be safe, while members are not stigmatized because they have access to important health care.”

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