San Francisco officials declared a state of emergency on Thursday as monkey pox cases reached 281 and continued to spread across the city.
Mayor London Breed and the city’s Department of Health issued the statement, allowing officials to mobilize additional resources and accelerate funding and emergency planning to fight the outbreak of the virus that is spreading almost exclusively among gay, bisexual and transgender men. and non-binary people.
LGBTQ activists and health leaders have been sounding the alarm about monkey pox for weeks, saying they were underprepared and overlooked by public health officials. Now many state and local officials are joining the call for a better response to the outbreak — especially efforts to get more vaccines.
On Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco health department reported 20 more cases of monkeypox, including probable cases and those identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 281.
Breed said at a news conference on Thursday that she had sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on July 20, expressing an urgent need for vaccines in the city. San Francisco needs about 70,000 doses to meet demand, Breed said, and some vaccine sites had to close due to lack of supplies.
“We know the challenges of what happens in San Francisco when we put public health on the back burner,” Breed said. “We’ve seen this happen earlier in history during the AIDS crisis, when San Francisco was pretty much left to fend for itself to deal with what has become a real pandemic in this country.”
State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) condemned homophobia and stigma against gay men he saw in response to the outbreak.
“I came of age as a gay man in 1987, when I was 17 years old, and it was at one of the worst moments of the AIDS crisis,” Wiener said at the press conference. “This is like deja vu that gay men are again being attacked and demonized and blamed when we get sick.”
dr. Susan Philip, the city’s public health official, noted that 30% of California cases are in San Francisco.
“We have always been at the forefront of advocacy and action for LGBTQ+ health and I make this statement to reaffirm our commitment to the well-being of these communities and enable us to act faster to mobilize resources.” obtain and distribute the information needed to help these people. disproportionately affected,” Philip said in a statement.
In New York State, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett also said on Thursday that monkeypox is an “immediate threat to public health.” The statement allows local health authorities to use more resources to distribute the monkeypox vaccine.
Monkeypox cases have continued to rise in Los Angeles and San Francisco since late June, coinciding with Pride weekends. Los Angeles reported 279 cases on Thursday. According to the CDC, there are 799 cases in California and more than 4,900 cases in the US.
Monkeypox, a virus that originates in animals such as primates and rodents and sometimes spreads to humans, was identified in 1958 and is mainly found in Central and West Africa. The disease belongs to the same family as smallpox, but leads to milder symptoms, including fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. Some people may develop lesions and rashes on the hands and face.
Since May, when the outbreak was first detected in the UK, more than 70 countries where the disease is not endemic have reported a rise in cases.
US health officials announced this week that about 800,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available for distribution. The federal government has sent more than 310,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine to health departments across the country, but clinics in major cities like San Francisco and New York say it’s not enough.
San Francisco is expected to receive about 4,220 doses of the monkeypox vaccine this week, according to Breed’s office. The city’s public health department has requested 35,000 doses, only half of what Breed said the city really needs, yet officials said they’ve only received about 12,000, including this week’s allotment.
Public health officials in Los Angeles County also said the number of doses they have received does not meet the requirements of their residents. When cases started appearing in LA County last month, about 1,000 doses of vaccine had arrived from the federal government.
Since then, about 24,000 doses have arrived in the province, but officials said this is not up to what is needed to respond to the outbreak.
Last week, Dr. California Secretary of Health Mark Ghaly asked the CDC to provide an additional 600,000 doses for the state.