US declares state of emergency over monkeypox

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The Biden administration declared a health emergency over the growing monkeypox outbreak Thursday.

The declaration allows the federal government to amp up its response to the virus without the usual regulatory barriers.

“I want to make an announcement today that I will be declaring a public health emergency,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a call with reporters Thursday about the monkeypox outbreak.

“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus.”

“We urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility and help us tackle this virus,” he continued.

The country has reported more than 6,600 cases of the virus, which cause fever, aches, and bumps or sores on the body.

It spreads through drawn-out skin-to-skin contact, and the main demographic affected so far has been gay and bisexual men.

Biden officials have been under scrutiny for a slow response to the growing outbreak, particularly because vaccines for the virus already exist.

“Importantly, this declaration will also help us continue to expand public health’s ability to expedite data sharing so that we can have comprehensive and timely data available to inform public health decisions,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.

The president appointed Robert Fenton of FEMA as the White House national monkeypox response coordinator on Tuesday and named Dr. Demetre Daskalaki, the CDC director of HIV prevention, as his deputy.

The administration says it has made 1.1 million doses of the vaccine available, and 600,000 have been administered.

The World Health Organization declared the spreading monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency on July 23 after declining to declare one in late June. Some 150,000 additional vaccine doses are coming in September, federal officials said.

More than 25,800 cases of monkeypox have been recorded worldwide.

Mayor Eric Adams declared monkeypox a public health emergency in New York City on Saturday, after saying in May he was not worried about its spread in the Big Apple.

The country currently only has the capacity for 80,000 monkeypox tests per week.

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