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San Francisco issues monkeypox state of emergency; New York state declares it an "imminent threat"

Monkeypox cases increase amid vaccine shortage
Monkeypox cases increase amid vaccine shortage 02:08

The city of San Francisco announced a state of emergency Thursday over the growing number of monkeypox cases, while New York state issued a declaration calling the disease an "imminent threat."

San Francisco has 281 cases, out of about 800 in California, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. A national shortage of vaccine has resulted in people waiting in line for hours for scarce doses, often to be turned away when the shots run out.

"We are at a very scary place. And we don't want to be ignored by the federal government in our need. So many leaders of the LGBT community have also, weeks ago, asked for additional help and support and assistance," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a news conference.

The city is in "desperate need of vaccines," she added.

San Francisco's declaration, which takes effect Monday, was welcomed by gay advocates who have grown increasingly frustrated by what they called San Francisco's lackluster response to a virus that so far has affected primarily men who have sex with men, although anyone can get infected.

"San Francisco was at the forefront of the public health responses to HIV and COVID-19, and we will be at the forefront when it comes to monkeypox," said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents the city. "We can't and won't leave the LGBTQ community out to dry."

Meanwhile, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett Thursday declared monkeypox an "imminent threat." New York has recorded at least 1,341 cases, according to state health department numbers.

"Based on the ongoing spread of this virus, which has increased rapidly and affected primarily communities that identify as men who have sex with men, and the need for local jurisdictions to administer vaccines, I've declared monkeypox an Imminent Threat to Public Health throughout New York state," Bassett said in a statement. "This declaration means that local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional state reimbursement, after other federal and state funding sources are maximized, to protect all New Yorkers and ultimately limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced Thursday that the state was slated to receive another 110,000 monkeypox vaccine doses. Of those, approximately 80,000 will go to New York City, and the remaining 30,000 to the rest of the state, Hochul said.

There are at least 4,907 cases nationwide, according to Thursday numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the problems with vaccine supply, federal officials said Thursday that the country's monkeypox outbreak can still be stopped, amid worries that the U.S. has missed the window to contain the virus.

The monkeypox virus spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which includes sex, kissing, breathing at close range, and sharing bedding and clothing, the public health department said. Health officials are asking people who could be at risk to cover exposed skin when out in crowds and to watch out for symptoms, such as fever, blisters and rashes.

The World Health Organization over the weekend declared the monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries a global emergency.

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