“We estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk of exposure to monkeypox,” Mayor Eric Adams and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Health, said in a joint statement. “This outbreak must be met with urgency, action and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the gravity of the moment.”
The statement said that the announcement enters into force immediately.
It comes just a day after New York Governor Cathy Hochhol issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the state’s disaster, saying that “more than one in four cases of monkeypox in this country” is in the state. Among many other measures, the governor has ordered expanding the number of people eligible for monkeypox vaccinations, requiring providers to send vaccine data to the state health department, and bolstering ongoing response efforts including efforts to get more vaccines and expand testing capacity, the Office of The governor said.
Other leaders in the US – and around the world – have been sounding the alarm about monkeypox as infection numbers continue to rise and the supply of vaccines falls short of demand. Experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have stressed the need to take the monkeypox outbreak seriously and deal with it in a more aggressive manner, while federal officials continue to assess the nationwide public health emergency declaration.
The city said San Francisco became the first major US city to declare a local health emergency on Thursday in an effort to boost its preparedness and response amid “rapidly increasing cases” and high demand for a vaccine. The announcement goes into effect on Monday.
“We know this virus affects everyone equally – but we also know that those in the LGBTQ community are at greater risk right now,” San Francisco Mayor London Post said in a statement. “Many people in our LGBTQ community are frightened and frustrated. This local emergency will allow us to continue supporting our most vulnerable, while being better prepared for what’s to come.”
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said Thursday that the federal government in Washington is continuing to monitor the response to monkeypox and will use it to consider whether the outbreak is declared a public health emergency.
“We will assess any decision on declaring a public health emergency based on the responses we’re seeing across the country. Bottom line, we need to stay ahead of the curve and be able to end this outbreak,” he said.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, warned earlier this month that it was too late to contain the outbreak, telling CBS, “The window to control and contain this disease may have closed.”
Last weekend, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after the Second Emergency Committee convened on the issue.
The World Health Organization defines a public health emergency of international concern as an “exceptional event” that poses a “risk to the public health of other countries through the international spread of disease” and “may require a coordinated international response.”