California and Illinois on Monday declared health emergencies in their states regarding the monkeypox virus.
The governors’ proclamation will accelerate the administration of vaccines, the work of contact tracing, and prevention efforts, officials said.
The White House on Monday night bolstered its footing against the virus by confirming Bob Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis will be announced Tuesday as national monkeypox coordinator and as deputy, respectively.
Fenton helped lead the country’s mass vaccination effort for Covid-19 as the Federal Emergency Management Agency acting administrator. Daskalakis is director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV prevention division.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser, said the pair represents “a really good combination” to tackle an illness that still presents some mysteries, including whether the virus can spread when a carrier has no symptoms.
The day’s moves follow declarations of emergency last week in New York state, New York City and San Francisco.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement Monday that his move would bring to the fight “a whole-of-government response” that will help fund vaccination outreach and research.
“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,” he said.
The proclamation will allow emergency medical services workers to administer monkeypox vaccines, the governor’s office said.
The state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will serve as a guide to launch vaccine clinics in targeted communities, according to Newsom’s statement.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, the author of several laws regarding LGBTQ+ issues, welcomed the declaration on monkeypox. “We need to use every tool we have to control it,” he said in a statement.
In Illinois, Pritzker said in a statement that his declaration will likewise give the Department of Public Health the full power of the state to distribute vaccines and to inform the public about the virus.
The illness “requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent the spread,” he said in the statement.
The Illinois declaration gives the state the ability to procure vaccines on an urgent basis, the governor’s office said.
The governor’s move “will open efficient lines of communication and cooperation across state lines, an essential step in tracking monkeypox and improving tools and processes to prevent and address it,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Sameer Vohra said in the governor’s statement.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the declaration was much needed.
“This emergency declaration brings a necessary, increased focus to the Monkeypox (MPV) outbreak we’re seeing here in Chicago, across our state, and around the country,” she said in a statement.
The states with the most monkeypox cases are New York (1,390), California (827), and Illinois (520), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vast majority of cases worldwide have been among men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization. However, anyone can get it from everyday contact with others, and even with animals, experts say.
Common symptoms include a rash with lesions, malaise, fever and swollen lymph nodes, health officials say. Chills, headache and muscle pain have also been reported for the illness, which usually lasts two to four weeks, according to the CDC.
Lindsey Piper and Associated Press contributed.