California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Monday in response to the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak in the Golden State.
The emergency declaration enables Emergency Medical Services personnel to administer the monkeypox vaccine – a move Newsom’s office says will bolster the state’s vaccination efforts.
“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” Newsom said in a statement “We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker likewise declared the virus a public health emergency, empowering the Illinois Department of Public Health to use state and federal resources to distribute vaccines.
“I find that a disaster exists within the State of Illinois due to the public health emergency caused by the monkeypox virus and specifically declare all counties in the state of Illinois as a disaster area,” Pritzker’s disaster declaration said.
The state of emergency declarations comes as California’s monkeypox cases continue to rise. As of Monday, California had 827 cases of monkeypox, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illinois had more than 500 cases.
California’s outbreak has had a disproportionate impact on members of the LGBTQ community, with 91.7% of the state’s cases occurring among gay and lesbian individuals, according to new data released by the California Department of Public Health Friday.
The virus spreads mostly through “close, intimate contact” with someone who has monkeypox and can cause fever, exhaustion and painful rash, according to the CDC.
CDPH Director Dr. Thomás Aragón told reporters Friday that the state has received over 37,000 vaccine doses and will get an additional 72,000 vaccine doses soon. He noted that the state had requested 800,000 additional vaccine doses from the federal government.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, previously called on both the state and San Francisco to declare an emergency in response to the outbreak. San Francisco declared a local public health emergency on Thursday.
In a statement on Monday, Wiener said the emergency declaration “will help expand vaccination, testing, and other critical strategies around the outbreak.”
Monday’s declaration made California the third state in the nation to declare a state of emergency after New York and Illinois.