California Governor declares smallpox emergency

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The governor of California on Monday declared a state of emergency to speed up efforts to combat a monkeypox outbreak, becoming the second state in three days to take the step.

Governor Gavin Newsom said the announcement will help California coordinate the response across the government, find more vaccines, and lead outreach and education efforts about where people can get treatment and vaccinations. .

“We will continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community against stigma,” Newsom said.

Nearly 800 cases of monkeypox have been reported in California, according to state public health officials.

The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, which can include hugging, cuddling, and kissing, as well as through sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. Those infected so far have been mostly men who have sex with men, although health officials note that the virus can infect anyone.

“Public health officials are clear: stigma is unacceptable and counterproductive in the response to public health,” said Michelle Gibbons, executive director of the County Health Executives Association. California said in a statement. “The reality is that monkeypox is mainly spread through skin-to-skin contact and sharing objects like bed sheets or towels, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak is rarely fatal, and people usually recover within a few weeks. But the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are painful, and they can interfere with swallowing or having a bowel movement if in the throat or anus.

The California statement comes after a similar one in New York state on Saturday and in San Francisco on Thursday. Newsom’s administration said recently on Friday that it was too early for such a statement.

After pressing Newsom to make such a statement, Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco praised the governor’s decision.

“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency, and we need to use every tool we have to bring it under control,” says Wiener.

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Newsom’s statement allows emergency medical personnel to administer the federally approved monkeypox vaccine.

That’s similar to a recent law allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines, Newsom’s management said. It said the state’s response is building on steps developed during the coronavirus pandemic to set up vaccination clinics and ensure access to vulnerable populations with the cooperation of local and community organizations.

California has received more than 61,000 doses of the vaccine and has distributed more than 25,000 doses.

“We don’t have any time to waste,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement. She said the country’s most populous county must use all available resources to speed up vaccine distribution and help those already infected.

Newsom’s office said Los Angeles County has received a separate distribution of the vaccine.

As of last week, the state has expanded its testing capacity to handle more than 1,000 tests per week. Critics say waiting too long for test results has delayed treatment options.

In San Francisco, Peter Tran was among hundreds of people lining up for hours to get a monkeypox vaccine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday after the clinic was forced to close last week. for not receiving the full dose.

“It’s horrible. Like this is a vaccine that’s been in use for a long time. And like, it’s not even a deadly disease. Harder to be transmitted than COVID. But deployment Vaccines all over this country are absolutely appalling,” Tran said.

“I think the science shows that protection is greatly improved with vaccines. So that’s why I’m doing it. And I really don’t want the wounds on my body. I heard the wound is very painful and leaves a scar. So I think that’s another incentive to go out and get it.”

Before issuing their own emergency declaration last week, San Francisco city officials were criticized for not responding quickly enough to the outbreak. They, in turn, blame the federal government for not providing enough vaccines. Lukejohn Day, medical director at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said the city received about 4,000 doses on Friday, allowing vaccinations to be restarted, and hopes to have them by midweek. .

The city had 305 cases as of Monday, he said.

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox outbreaks in more than 70 countries a global emergency.

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Associated Press cinematographer Terry Chea is from San Francisco.

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