Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday declared a state of emergency in California over the spread of the monkeypox virus to “strengthen the state’s vaccination efforts.”
“California is urgently working at 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 those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach. Newsom said in a statement.
Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox, but usually milder. It spreads largely among men who have sex with men, as well as transgender and non-binary people, although health officials warn that anyone can contract the virus through direct contact with contagious sores, scabs or bodily fluids or by touching clothing and bedding that had been touched by a person. person are used with the virus.
Nearly 800 cases have been confirmed in California, according to the most recent data from the California Department of Public Health on Thursday. The state reported that 98.3% of those cases were confirmed in men, the majority of whom identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
The proclamation makes it easier for the state to coordinate its response to the outbreak by ordering all government agencies to follow directions from the Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health. The order also boosts vaccination efforts by allowing EMS workers to administer vaccines, which remain in short supply.
sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and several other state lawmakers on Monday sent a letter to Newsom and legislative leaders calling for a $38.5 million emergency budget to support local monkey pox testing, vaccination, treatment and outreach for the first 90 years. days of the outbreak.
“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency and we must use every means we have to get it under control,” Wiener said in a statement following Newsom’s emergency statement.
Newsom’s office said California has distributed more than 25,000 doses of the vaccine out of a total of 61,000 doses received to date. That total does not include a separate allocation that the federal government has given to Los Angeles County.
The governor’s order said the state is “distributing its limited supply of the vaccine to local health jurisdictions based on a formula that takes into account current cases of monkeypox and the number of individuals at high risk.”
Those eligible for the vaccine in LA County are anyone who has had direct contact with someone with monkey pox or attended a high-exposure event. Under county guidelines, gay, bisexual, and transgender men are also eligible who have visited a commercial sex venue or other location where they have had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners in the past three weeks, or who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis has been diagnosed within the past three weeks. the last 12 months or you are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis with HIV.
The governor’s office said more than 30 facilities and providers across the state offer treatments for monkeypox, although access to the antiviral prescription drug tecovirimat is also limited.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to obtain more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risks and assist the LGBTQ community in the fight against stigma,” Newsom said.
Those infected by the virus initially have a fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Later, they develop a rash, usually starting on the face and then spreading, turning into pus-filled sores before healing.
Monkeypox disease usually resolves within two to four weeks, but can cause severe pain, hospitalization, prolonged symptoms and, in rare cases, death.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger urged the county to “withdraw all available aid to accelerate the distribution of vaccines and resources to those at risk and suffering from this terrible disease,” in response to the order of the governor.
“I will do everything I can to make sure we do this quickly and efficiently,” Barger said in a statement. “We have no time to lose.”
An investigation into the first case of monkey pox in California in a person traveling abroad began on May 21 and was confirmed on May 25.
Under the California Emergency Services Act of 1970, the governor has broad authority to respond during a state of emergency. The governor can “create, amend, and revoke” state rules and suspend state statutes, and has the power to redirect state funds to help in emergencies — even funds appropriated by the California legislature for a completely different purpose.
The California Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling in 2021 affirming Newsom’s emergency powers. Two Republican state lawmakers had challenged Newsom’s power after he declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing he had no right to issue an executive order requiring ballots to be sent before 3 November to the state’s 22 million registered voters. , 2020, election.
The Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional because it required the governor to end a declared state of emergency as soon as possible and also allowed the legislature to end it by passing a joint resolution.