New York government Kathy Hochul declared the rapidly spreading monkey pox outbreak in New York a state disaster late Friday as authorities rushed to distribute vaccines to curb the spread of the virus.
The measure comes as the number of monkeypox infections in New York neared 1,400 cases, with most infections in New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the US.
“More than one in four cases of monkeypox in this country are in New York State, and we must use every tool in our arsenal if we are to respond,” Hochul said in a statement, targeting the emergency statement.
The director of the World Health Organization declared the virus a global health crisis late last week. On Wednesday, more than 20,000 cases of monkey pox had been detected worldwide in 77 countries. The US currently has about 4,600 reported cases, USA TODAY reported.
The executive order specifically expands the pool of eligible individuals who can administer monkeypox vaccines, including ambulance personnel, pharmacists and midwives. It also allows physicians and certified nurses to issue non-patient-specific standing orders for vaccines, and requires suppliers to send vaccine data to the Department of Health.
VACCINES:More than 780K doses of monkeypox vaccine available Friday; San Francisco declares state of emergency
Meanwhile, the mayor of San Francisco on Thursday declared a state of emergency over the growing number of cases in the city, which has 261 of the 800 cases in California.
“We urgently need vaccines to support the people of San Francisco,” Mayor London Breed said.
Federal health officials said they are still considering whether monkey pox should be declared a public health emergency, which would free up more resources.
After the federal government struggled to get enough monkeypox vaccines earlier this month, supplies rose steadily in recent weeks, culminating on Friday with the nationwide distribution of 780,000 doses.
About 110,000 doses went to New York, of which about 30,000 were outside New York City.
Vaccine clinics in the greater New York City area and several upstate counties faced overwhelming demand for injections amid limited vaccine supplies earlier this week as people booked available appointments within hours.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that usually does not cause serious illness. However, it can lead to hospitalization or death.
Monkeypox spreads through close, physical contact between people. This means anyone can get monkey pox, state health officials said.
However, based on the current outbreak, certain populations are more affected by monkeypox than others, including men who have sex with men.
Based on past outbreaks of monkeypox around the world, some groups may also be at increased risk of serious consequences if they get monkeypox. This includes people with weakened immune systems, older New Yorkers, young children under 8, and pregnant people.
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY.