SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The governor of California on Monday declared a state of emergency over efforts to fight the monkeypox outbreak, becoming the second state in three days to make the move.
Governor Gavin Newsom said the statement will help California coordinate a government-wide response, seek more vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts about where people can get treatment and vaccination.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to obtain more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risks and assist the LGBTQ community in the fight against stigma,” Newsom said in a statement. announced.
Nearly 800 cases of monkeypox have been reported in California, according to state public health officials.
The monkeypox virus spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, cuddling and kissing, as well as sharing bedding, towels and clothing. People who have gotten sick so far have mainly 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 County Health Executives Association of California, said in a statement. “The fact is that monkeypox is mainly spread through skin-to-skin contact and the 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 statement in California came after a similar one in New York state on Saturdays and in San Francisco on Thursdays. The Newsom government said it was too early for such a statement on Friday.
After urging Newsom to make such a statement, Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco praised the governor’s decision.
“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency and we need to use every means we have to get it under control,” Wiener said.
The Proclamation of Newsom allows emergency medical personnel to administer monkeypox vaccines approved by the federal government.
That’s similar to a recent law allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines, the Newsom administration said. It said the state’s response builds on steps developed during the coronavirus pandemic to set up vaccination clinics and ensure that vulnerable populations are reached in partnership with local and community organizations.
California has received more than 61,000 doses of vaccine and has distributed more than 25,000 doses.
“We have no time to lose,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement. She said the country’s most populous province should use all available resources to accelerate vaccine distribution and help those infected.
Newsom’s office said Los Angeles County has received a separate vaccine assignment.
As of last week, the state had expanded its testing capacity to process more than 1,000 tests per week. Critics have said the long wait for test results slowed treatment options.
In San Francisco, Peter Tran was one of hundreds who sometimes queued for hours to get the monkeypox vaccine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday after the clinic had to close last week because it wasn’t getting enough doses.
“It’s terrible. Like this is a vaccine that’s been around for so long. And it’s not even a fatal disease. It’s harder to transmit than COVID. But the rollout of the vaccines across this country is absolutely terrible,” he said. trans.
“I think the science shows that protection is greatly improved with the vaccine. So that’s why I do it. And I honestly just don’t want the lesions on my body. I heard the lesions are painful and leave scars. So I think that’s another motivation to go out there and get it. ”
Before making their own emergency declaration last week, San Francisco city officials were criticized for not responding quickly enough to the outbreak. They, in turn, blamed the federal government for not providing enough vaccines. The city received about 4,000 doses on Friday, which will allow it to restart vaccinations and hopes to administer them by the middle of the week, said Dr. Lukejohn Day, medical director of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
The city had 305 cases by Monday, he said.
The World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries a global emergency.
Associated Press videographer Terry Chea contributed from San Francisco.