Monkeypox has been declared an “imminent public health threat” in New York City due to the continued and rapid spread of the disease, health officials announced Thursday.
The state leads the nation in confirmed cases, with 1,247 of America’s 4,907 infections — with nearly all cases in and around New York City. State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the statement would “free up” additional funds to help prevent the spread of the disease.
It came on the same day that San Francisco officials said they would declare a “local emergency” over monkeypox as the number of infections reached 241. No nationwide alarm has yet been issued, although the Biden administration is considering the move.
One in five Americans now fear monkey pox, according to a poll of 1,500 adults from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Pennsylvania.
The above map shows the number of monkey pox cases declared in the US by CDC
The chart above shows the total number of confirmed cases of monkey pox in the United States. This week, the number skyrocketed by more than 1,000 in 24 hours, officials say due to ‘historic’ cases finally being recorded.
‘Every American should pay attention to monkey pox,’ says health chief
Every American should “pay attention” to the monkeypox outbreak because the disease could spread to more groups than just gay men, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warned on Thursday — before the number of U.S. cases toppled. 4,900, the highest number in the world.
dr. HHS secretary Xavier Becerra issued the stark warning at a news conference, adding that infections with the disease were “painful” and could also be dangerous. He insisted it was “absolutely” still possible for the US to eradicate monkey pox.
The vast majority of cases still involve gay or bisexual men, but last week America registered the first two cases in children — in a toddler in California and baby traveling through Washington DC — and a pregnant woman who tested positive when she was almost was full – term.
Top experts have been warning for weeks that other groups can get the disease because it doesn’t require sexual contact to transmit, just close contact such as hugs or brushing an infected person’s rash.
The statement made on Thursday said Bassett: “Based on the continued spread of this virus, which has increased rapidly and especially [gay or bisexual male] communities… I have declared monkey pox an imminent public health threat in New York State.
“This statement means that local health services… will have access to additional state reimbursements after maximizing other sources of federal funding.
‘[This will held] protect all New Yorkers and ultimately limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities.”
Concerns over monkey pox have risen after the number of cases rose by more than 1,000 a day on Wednesday – with officials predicting they will continue to rise for ‘weeks’.
About 99 percent of infections have been identified in men, with the ‘vast majority’ among those who are gay or bisexual.
But top experts fear the disease will spread to more vulnerable groups. In the past seven days, America has registered the first two cases in children – a toddler in California and a baby in Washington DC – and one in a pregnant woman.
Announcing plans to declare monkey pox a state of emergency this week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the “early action” was needed to “protect public health.”
“Many people in our LGBTQ+ community are scared and frustrated,” she said.
“This local emergency allows us to continue to support our most at-risk groups, while also better preparing for what’s to come.”
The city’s health director in the Bay Area, Dr. Grant Colfax, said the COVID-19 pandemic had taught them that early action was needed to contain the disease.
Their statement will come into effect on August 1.
Biden administration is also expected to declare monkey pox a health emergency in the coming days, Politics reports.
It would follow a similar decision the World Health Organization made last week after they previously balked at the move.
When this was announced, the White House said it was a “call to action” for countries to “stop” the spread of the virus worldwide.
Both cities have struggled to obtain sufficient doses of the vaccine to protect citizens from the disease.
New York City offers the jab to all gay or bisexual men who have multiple sexual partners in a fortnight, while San Francisco is rolling it out to “anyone who wants it.”
New York received an additional 110,000 doses yesterday, of which 80,000 were destined for New York City, on top of the 60,000 rolled out statewide so far.
But San Francisco was offered only 4,220 of the 35,000 it had initially asked for.
Rollouts have previously been criticized for their slow pace and how ‘ridiculous’ so few shots are available in such large cities.
America has the most confirmed cases of monkey pox in the world. But when the data is looked at per capita – a more accurate measure as it takes into account countries with different population sizes – it shows that Spain has the worst outbreak.
It comes after a survey warned that monkey pox concerns were growing among Americans amid rising cases.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center, part of the University of Pennsylvania, interviewed 1,500 Americans two weeks ago about whether they were concerned about catching Covid or monkey pox.
It found that 19 percent said they were concerned about monkeypox contamination. A higher proportion — 30 percent — said they were still concerned about catching Covid.
The majority of people surveyed said they were not concerned about being infected with either disease.
The center’s director, Kathleen Jamieson, said: ‘It is important that the public align their concerns with the reality of the risk of Covid and monkey pox and act appropriately.’