Gov. On Monday, Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California to “increase the state’s vaccination efforts” due to the spread of the monkeypox virus.
“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 focus on vaccines, treatment and outreach for those most at risk,” Newsom said in a statement.
Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to chickenpox, but usually milder. It’s mostly spread among men who have sex with men, as well as transgender and non-binary people, but health officials warn that the virus can be spread through direct contact with infected sores, scabs or body fluids, or by touching clothing and bedding used by people. with the virus.
Nearly 800 cases have been confirmed in California, according to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health as of Thursday. The state reported that 98.3% of these cases were confirmed in men, most of whom identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
The announcement makes it easier to coordinate the state’s response to the outbreak, ordering all state agencies to follow guidelines from the Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health. The order also boosts vaccination efforts by authorizing EMS workers to administer vaccines that are in short supply.
You are. Rep. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and several other state lawmakers on Monday asked Newsom and legislative leaders for $38.5 million in emergency budget allocations to provide local monkeypox testing, vaccinations, treatment and assistance during the first 90 days of the outbreak. sent a letter. .
“Monkeypox is an emergency and we must use every weapon we have to control it,” Wiener said in a statement following Newsom’s emergency declaration.
Newsom’s office said California has distributed more than 25,000 doses of the vaccine out of 61,000 doses received to date. That amount does not include a separate allocation from the federal government to Los Angeles County.
According to the governor’s order, the state is “distributing a limited supply of the vaccine to local health jurisdictions based on a formula that considers current monkeypox cases and the number of people at high risk.”
Those eligible for the vaccine in LA County include those who have had direct contact with a person with monkeypox or attended a high-exposure event. Also eligible, according to county guidelines, are gay and bisexual men and transgender people who have had anonymous sex with multiple partners in the past three weeks or who have attended a commercial sex or other facility where they had sex, or who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis. taking prophylactic drugs in the past 12 months or before exposure to HIV.
According to the governor’s office, more than 30 facilities and providers across the state are offering monkeypox treatment, but availability of the antiviral prescription drug tecurimate is also limited.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to provide more vaccines, raise awareness about risk reduction, and fight stigmatization of the LGBTQ community,” Newsom said.
Those infected with the virus first experience fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. Later, they develop a rash that usually starts on the surface and then spreads and turns into pus-filled sores before healing.
Monkeypox cases usually resolve within two to four weeks, but can cause severe illness, hospitalization, long-term symptoms, and, in rare cases, death.
In response to the governor’s order, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger urged the county “to mobilize all support to expedite the distribution of vaccines and resources to those at risk and affected by this devastating disease.”
“I will work to ensure that we do this quickly and efficiently,” Barger said in a statement. “We have no time to waste.”
An investigation into the first case of monkeypox in California in a person who traveled abroad and traveled abroad began on May 21, and was confirmed on May 25.
Under California’s Emergency Services Act of 1970, the governor has broad powers to take emergency action. The governor can “insert, amend and repeal” state regulations and can suspend state laws and has the power to redirect state funds for emergency relief, even funds appropriated by the California Legislature for an entirely different purpose.
The California Supreme Court in 2021 upheld an appeals court ruling that upheld Newsom’s special powers. Two state Republican lawmakers challenged Newsom’s authority to issue an order requiring him to mail ballots to the state’s 22 million voters by November after he declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 3, 2020, election.
The Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional because it required the governor to end the state of emergency as soon as possible and allowed the Legislature to end it by passing a joint resolution.