HomeHealthThe U.S. Declares Monkeypox Outbreak A Public Health Emergency

The U.S. Declares Monkeypox Outbreak A Public Health Emergency

The Biden Administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on Thursday. The decision comes from the rise in cases throughout the U.S. Since mid-May, more than 6,600 probable or confirmed cases have been detected in the U.S. Montana and Wyoming are the only states in the country without confirmed cases.

The announcement was made during a briefing with the Department of Health and Human Services. The administration was criticized for handling the monkeypox outbreak when it first emerged. Many called for the government to declare a national emergency without hesitation. WHO announced last month that the monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern. The agency defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

Cities and States’ Responses to Monkeypox Outbreak

Major cities and states have already declared monkeypox an emergency. This allows them to free up funding and resources to respond to the outbreak. Earlier this week, President Biden named Robert Fenton as the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. Fenton oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada as a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator. He will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak. In addition, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the U.S. CDC director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, serves as the deputy coordinator.

Criticism of Administration’s Response to Monkeypox

One of the criticisms the administration has received was their response to monkeypox when it first appeared. They waited more than three weeks after the first confirmed case in the U.S. to order bulk vaccine stocks. The government owns and stores the vaccine in Denmark. However, the delay was due to concern that they would lose years of shelf life once the vaccines were taken out of storage.

Although monkeypox can infect anyone, most cases have been among men who have sex with other men. According to experts, close contact with an infected individual is required to spread the monkeypox virus. Thus, the CDC initially announced the vaccine would be offered to “high-risk” contacts of monkeypox patients and health care workers treating them. Fortunately, federal health officials have expanded vaccination efforts to focus on the broader community.

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