City declares state of emergency

San Francisco officials declared a state of emergency on Thursday in response to the growing spread of monkeypox cases in the city.

The declaration will enable the Mayor of London Breed and other city officials to mobilize resources and staff to deal with the escalating monkeypox outbreak. On Wednesday, the city reported that 261 people had confirmed or probable monkeypox infections. Health officials said they expect that figure to only rise in the days and weeks to come.

A rapid increase in monkeypox cases in San Francisco has been met with a shortage of available vaccines. To date, city officials said they have received about 8,200 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, intended to prevent monkeypox and smallpox in adults.

“We want the flexibility to be able to use our resources to better serve the public and protect health,” San Francisco health officer Susan Philip said Thursday. “We also want to affirm our commitment to the health of our LGBTQ communities in San Francisco, as we have always done as a city,” she added, referring to the population most affected by monkeypox so far. ‘now.

Philip stressed that she does not plan to call for any closures or restrictions, which distinguishes this emergency declaration from health orders issued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monkeypox in the Bay Area

Perhaps more worrying than the number of infections was the trajectory, which “continues to rise,” Philip said, “as we know there are more cases that have yet to be diagnosed.” Testing has increased, she said, but not enough to make it universally accessible.

Breed acknowledged in a statement that the virus “affects everyone equally – but we also know that members of our LGBTQ community are at higher risk right now.”

Offering support to members of the LGBTQ community who are “frightened and frustrated”, Breed assured that the local emergency “will allow us to continue supporting our most at risk, while also better preparing for what is to come”.

“This is a very important milestone for San Francisco,” said Sen. Scott Wiener. He urged the city and state to declare a monkeypox-related state of emergency and said he was writing a letter to Sec. Xavier Becerra of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asking states and counties for more flexibility to redirect COVID-19 funds to monkeypox vaccines and treatment.

Wiener expressed frustration with what he saw as an initially slow response from the federal government and the “too complicated” hurdles facing doctors as they attempted to administer smallpox treatment for monkeypox. He said, however, that the federal response had improved.

At the current count, San Francisco and Los Angeles appear to be the two most worrisome hotbeds of the monkeypox outbreak in California, which as of July 21 had the second-highest number of reported cases in the nation, after New York. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the two cities are “neck to neck”, with roughly the same number of infections according to Philip.

The city has requested an initial supply of 35,000 doses and will prioritize vaccines for men and trans people who have sex with men, who are currently the most vulnerable to infection of all populations in the city. Within these communities, Latino men have seen a disproportionate number of cases, a disparity that Philip attributes to the spread of the virus through networks.

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