Newsom declares state of emergency due to monkeypox outbreak

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 working urgently at all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing, and strengthened community partnerships. Working hard during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus on vaccines, treatment and access,” Newsom said in the statement.

Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox, although usually milder. It is mostly spread among men who have sex with men as well as transgender and non-hybrid people, although health officials warn that anyone can contract the virus when they are sexually active. by direct contact with sores, scales, or infectious body fluids or by touching a person’s clothing and bedding. with viruses.

Nearly 800 cases have been confirmed in California, according to the most recent California Department of Public Health data as of Thursday. The state reports that 98.3% of those confirmed cases are in men, the majority of whom identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

This declaration makes it easier for the state to coordinate the response to the outbreak by ordering all state agencies to follow the direction of the California Department of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health. The order also accelerates immunization efforts by allowing EMS staff to administer vaccines, which are currently in short supply.

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and several other state legislators sent a letter to Newsom and legislative leaders Monday calling for a $38.5 million emergency budget. la to support local monkeypox testing, vaccination, treatment and outreach during the first 90 days of the outbreak.

“The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency and we need to use every tool we have to bring 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 received to date. That total does not include a separate allocation that the federal government assigns to Los Angeles County.

The governor’s order says the state is “distributing its limited vaccine supply to local health areas based on a formula that considers current monkeypox cases and the number of individuals with high risk.”

Those eligible for the vaccine in LA County include anyone who has had direct contact with someone with monkeypox or attended a high exposure event. Also eligible under county guidelines are gay and bisexual men and transgender people who have visited a commercial sex site or other location where they have anonymous sex or have sex with multiple sex partners in the past three weeks, or who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months, or are taking HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.

The governor’s office says more than 30 facilities and providers across the state are offering a treatment for monkeypox, though access to the antiviral prescription drug tecovirimat is also limited.

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

People infected with the virus initially experience fever, aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. They then develop a rash, which usually begins on the face and then spreads, turning into pus-filled sores before healing.

Monkeypox 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 has called on the county to “withdraw all available support to expedite the distribution of vaccines and resources to those at risk of this terrible disease” by order of the governor. governor.

“I will work to ensure that we are working quickly and efficiently,” Barger said in a statement. “We don’t have any time to waste.”

An investigation into the first California case of monkeypox in an overseas traveler began May 21 and was confirmed May 25.

Under the California Emergency Services Act of 1970, the governor has broad authority to respond in emergencies. The Governor can “make, amend, and repeal” state regulations and suspend state regulations and has the power to redirect state funds to help in an emergency – even funds appropriated by the California Legislature for an entirely different purpose.

The California Supreme Court in 2021 upheld an appeals court ruling affirming Newsom’s emergency powers. Two Republican state lawmakers challenged Newsom’s authority after he declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing he had no authority to issue executive orders requiring ballots to be mailed. to the state’s 22 million registered voters by November 3, 2020, the election.

High Court ruled the law was constitutional because it requires the governor to end the declared state of emergency as soon as possible and also allows the Legislature to end it by passing a joint resolution.

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