New York Governor Hochhol declares a disaster emergency over monkeypox

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

John Smith | Corbis News | Getty Images

New York Governor Cathy Hochhol declared a state of emergency in the state Friday night due to the continuing spread of monkeypox.

She said the emergency declaration would lead to a faster response and better vaccine distribution. 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 of emergency in the event of a disaster to reinforce our ongoing efforts to respond to the outbreak of monkeypox,” Hochul wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Hochul noted that the country is an emerging center of the virus, which manifests itself in symptoms of rashes and lesions all over the body, limbs and genitals.

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

“More than one in four cases of smallpox in this country is in New York State, and we need to use every tool in our arsenal when we respond,” Hochhol wrote.

The governor’s office said in a statement that the state of emergency, enacted by executive order, allows EMS employees, pharmacists, midwives, doctors and certified nurse practitioners to administer the vaccines.

The governor’s office said the state was already in the process of securing more vaccines, expanding testing, and distributing information via a website and text notification system.

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

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

“It is particularly important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently disproportionately affecting some at-risk groups,” she said in a statement issued late Friday.

The virus, which spreads through physical contact, can present with flu-like symptoms, and its initial effects can last up to four weeks.

Since men who have sex with men are in the group most at risk of contracting the virus, the World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended that people in that group limit the number of their sexual partners as a precaution.

Cases of monkeypox have been reported this year in 71 countries where it was previously unknown or underreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States has recorded 5,189 cases this year, according to CDC data as of Friday.

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

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