On Monday California and Illinois joined New York state and San Francisco in declaring a public health emergency to tackle the ongoing spread of the monkeypox virus across the United States.
The US is currently the largest epicentre of the current surge in cases of the monkeypox, with the virus spreading to 47 states and Washington DC as of Monday, and with nearly 5,200 cases reported nationwide so far, according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in efforts to bolster vaccination and contain transmission of the virus.
California, the nation’s most populous state, had logged 827 monkeypox cases as of Monday, the second-largest state tally after the 1,390 infections recorded in New York, according to the CDC.
Last week, the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency as cases continue to rise there.
Also on Monday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency in an effort to help coordinate a statewide response.
Illinois currently had 520 cases as of Monday, which was the third highest in the country, according to the CDC.
New York declared a disaster emergency on Saturday with over a quarter of US monkeypox cases recorded in the state. Officials said New York City is currently the epicentre of the outbreak.
Frustration has been building over the federal government’s response to the monkeypox outbreak. Many blamed ‘red tapism’ for limited access to testing, vaccines and treatments. But officials insist more help is on the way.
According to the Associated Press, the US government has sent more than 310,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine to state and local health departments. But clinics in major cities such as San Francisco and New York say they don’t have enough shots to meet demand.
The federal government has also ordered 5 million additional doses, though most of them will be delivered next year.
Former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, said in an opinion article that the US does not have a federal infrastructure capable of dealing with such a health emergency, and monkeypox will become the country’s next public health failure.
Monkeypox can affect anyone and is transmitted through close contact. Although, nearly all of the cases outside of Africa have been in men who have sex with other men. In New York, only 1.4 pct of monkeypox patients self-identified as straight, with the rest describing themselves as gay, bisexual or declining to say, according to recent data.
The World Health Organization has said this global health emergency can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals take the risks seriously and implement the necessary steps to stop transmission.
The disease can cause particularly unpleasant and painful symptoms but is very rarely fatal, and no deaths have been reported outside of Africa.