Sacramento, California (AFP) – California’s governor on Monday declared a state of emergency to accelerate efforts to combat an outbreak of monkeypox, becoming the second state in three days to take the step.
Governor Gavin Newsom said the announcement will help California coordinate a government-wide response, push for more vaccines and lead awareness and education efforts about where people can get treatment and vaccination.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about risk reduction, and stand with the LGBT community in the fight against stigma,” Newsom said in a statement announcing his announcement.
Nearly 800 cases of monkeypox have been reported in California, according to state public health officials.
The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which can include hugs, hugs, and kissing, as well as through sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. The people who have contracted the disease so far have been men who have sex with men, although health officials note that the virus can infect anyone.
“Public health officials are clear: stigma is unacceptable and counterproductive in the public health response,” Michelle Gibbons, executive director of the Association of California Health Executives, said in a statement. “The reality is that monkeypox is spread primarily by skin contact and sharing of objects such as bedding or towels, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak is rarely fatal, and people usually recover within weeks. But the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are painful, and can prevent swallowing or bowel movements if they are in the throat or anus.
The announcement in California followed a similar announcement in New York State On Saturday, and in San Francisco on Thursday. As recently as Friday, Newsom’s management said it was too early for such an announcement.
And after lobbying Newsom to make such an announcement, Democratic Senator Scott Weiner of San Francisco applauded the governor’s decision.
“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency, and we need to use every tool we have to get it under control,” Wiener said.
Newsom ad Emergency medical personnel are allowed to administer monkeypox vaccines that have been approved by the federal government.
The Newsom administration said this is similar to a recent law that allows pharmacists to administer vaccines. She said that the state’s response depends on the steps developed during the coronavirus pandemic to set up vaccination clinics and ensure that vulnerable populations are reached in cooperation with local and community organizations.
California has received more than 61,000 vaccine doses and distributed more than 25,000.
“We don’t have any time to waste,” Los Angeles County Superintendent Catherine Barger said in a statement. She said the country’s most populous province should use all available resources to speed up the distribution of vaccines and help those infected.
Newsom’s office said Los Angeles County has received a separate allotment for the vaccine.
As of last week, the state has expanded its testing capacity to process more than 1,000 tests per week. Critics have said the long wait for test results is delaying treatment options.
In San Francisco, Peter Tran was among hundreds who queued sometimes for hours to receive a monkeypox vaccine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday after the clinic was forced to close last week because it did not receive enough doses.
“It’s terrible. Such a vaccine has been in use for a long time. And like, it’s not a deadly disease. It’s hard to get infected from COVID.” Spreading vaccines across this country is very horrible, Tran said.
“I think the science shows the vaccine has improved dramatically. That’s why I’m doing it. And I honestly don’t want the lesions on my body. I’ve heard that the lesions are painful and leave scars. So I think that’s another motivation to go out and get it.”
Before issuing their emergency declaration last week, San Francisco city officials were criticized for not responding quickly enough to the outbreak. They, in turn, faulted the federal government for failing to provide adequate vaccines. Lucjun Day, chief medical officer at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said the city received about 4,000 doses on Friday, enabling it to resume vaccinations, and hopes to have them given by midweek.
He said the city had 305 cases as of Monday.
The World Health Organization has declared an outbreak of monkeypox in more than 70 countries a global emergency.
Associated Press videographer Terry Chia contributed from San Francisco.