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Bay Area State Sen. Wiener to chair legislative monkeypox committee

Sen. Scott Wiener discusses monkeypox emergency
Sen. Scott Wiener discusses monkeypox emergency 04:18

SAN FRANCISCO – State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, was appointed chair of the California Legislature's new Senate Select Committee on Monkeypox, he announced Wednesday.

The committee will hold an oversight hearing next week with state and local health officials.

Wiener will be joined in the committee by state Sens. Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa, Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, and Richard Pan D-Sacramento, all appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON MONKEYPOX: California Department of Public Health | SF Department of Public Health | Santa Clara County Department of Public Health

The committee's announcement comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the monkeypox outbreak on Monday.

"Monkeypox is a public health emergency, and we need to do everything we can to contain the outbreak," Wiener said. "We need to ensure California's response, at both the state and local level, is effective and adequately funded. Our community is depending on us to deliver."

The committee is planning to address short- and medium-term solutions for California's response to the outbreak, while convening experts to discuss long-term improvements.

Monkeypox, a viral infection, causes symptoms similar to smallpox, though milder and rarely deadly. Monkeypox can cause intense pain in those who get infected.

The disease is spreading quickly throughout the U.S. after it spread through central and west Africa in the spring.

Wiener criticized the lack of U.S. response early on, saying that the government should have "flooded impacted areas" with the Jynneos vaccine, an effective monkeypox vaccine that the U.S. has stockpiled.

"Indeed, the United States chose to order only a small number of vaccine doses for its national vaccine stockpile and allowed tens of millions of doses to expire without replacing them," Wiener's office said in a statement.

Gay and bisexual men, those most at risk for infection, face a limited vaccine supply that has led to long wait times and difficulty in getting vaccinated.

Many counties in California do not have enough supply of the vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants it.

"In San Francisco, for example, people have been waiting in lines for as long as 9 hours in the hope of getting a scarce vaccine," Wiener's office said in a statement. "The long wait times create further barriers for low-income, marginalized communities to access the vaccine."

Testing is also behind, with difficulties in access and long wait times for test results. Wiener's office also voiced concern that many health care providers do not know enough about monkeypox.

The Select Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Sacramento.

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