The city of San Francisco, Calif., declared a state of emergency on Thursday in response to the spread of monkeypox.
“This will assist with city resources, emergency planning, staffing, coordination among city agencies, and enable future reimbursement by state and federal governments,” the Department of Health said Thursday. San Francisco Public Health in a statement. “It will also raise awareness throughout San Francisco on how everyone can stop the spread of monkeypox in our community.”
As of Wednesday, there were 261 probable or confirmed cases in the city, officials said.
Unlike Covid, the leaders are not planning for mass shutdowns or restrictions as part of their statement, San Francisco health official Susan Philip told the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday.
“We want the flexibility to be able to use our resources to better serve the public and protect health,” she said. “We also want to affirm our commitment to the health of our LGBTQ communities in San Francisco, as we have always done as a city.”
The disease, which can cause painful skin lesions and flu-like symptoms, has disproportionately affected men who have sex with men. The World Health Organization, which declared monkeypox a global health emergency last week, estimates that 98% of cases have affected this group.
The city currently has 8,200 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which prevents monkeypox and smallpox in adults, and has requested an initial supply of 35,000 total doses.
San Francisco will prioritize getting the first doses to the most vulnerable populations, including men and trans men who have sex with men, before scheduling people for their second shots.
The state of emergency will come into effect on August 1.
Some have criticized the city for the pace of vaccinations, given the intense demand for treatment.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has distributed 840 doses of vaccine so far, with 130 in reserve. He is said to have a waiting list of over 7,000 people who want the vaccine.
California Senator Scott Wiener was one of those pushing the city to take an emergency stance around monkeypox. He argues that expanded resources for vaccinations, testing and education are key to containing the disease without stigmatizing LGBTQ+ people.
“Lots of sexual shame from gay men around monkey pox. The same shame we saw in the 1980s regarding HIV. Recommending people not to have sex is not a public health strategy. It didn’t stop HIV – it made it worse – and it won’t stop monkeypox,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “What will work is vaccination, testing and education.”
California has the second highest number of monkeypox cases, 799, behind New York, according to CDC data.
The federal government has not yet declared monkeypox a health emergency, although it is expected to do so in the coming days, according to White House insiders.
The spread of monkeypox has surprised public health authorities still in the thick of the battle against Covid, but the disease has key differences from the coronavirus.
It was already known to science and there are treatments and vaccines designed to fight monkeypox.
Additionally, the disease is rarely fatal and considered far less contagious than Covid, being transmitted only through close personal contact.
The Independent Gt