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NYC Mulls Monkeypox State of Emergency, Deploys New Demographic Dashboard

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What to Know

  • NYC topped 1,000 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases and then some this week and now accounts for 27% of the largest-ever U.S. outbreak of the disease, which is typically confined to the African continent
  • U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday the government is releasing another 786,000 vaccine doses from the federal stockpile. More than 10% of them are going to New York City
  • NYC Mayor Eric Adams applauded the state health commissioner’s threat response to the outbreak, adding that a state of emergency declaration is under consideration

New York City could soon declare a state of emergency as the city accounts for more than a quarter of all monkeypox cases in what has become the largest-ever outbreak of the disease in America.

Questioned Friday morning during an unrelated media briefing, Mayor Eric Adams said the city’s health commissioner is making a determination whether the city should declare such an emergency that would free up additional resources in the city’s overall response.

Such a declaration has plenty of support from local politicians, including a number of Manhattan representatives who expressed concern over further spread of the virus once the city’s 1 million college students resume instruction next month. They applauded Thursday’s imminent threat declaration by the state health commissioner to open funding opportunities for local governments, but said the move was insufficient.

“A state and local declaration of emergency will help facilitate disaster response efforts by cutting the red tape standing in the way of effective and speedy distribution of testing, treatment, and vaccines,” state Senator Brad Hoylman, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and NYC Council Member Erik Bottcher said in a statement.

New York City’s monkeypox outbreak climbed to at least 1,289 cases in Friday’s report from the health department, up a few dozen cases after the previous days’ report ballooned nearly 200 from two earlier. That total, widely believed to be significantly underreported, still accounts for a quarter of the burgeoning national caseload.

A new breakdown of the suspected positives reflect a lion’s share of the cases are in people living in Manhattan, where just over 50% of cases have been discovered.

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U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that 80,000-plus monkeypox vaccine doses, or more than 10%, of 786,000 additional vials from the federal stockpile will go to the five boroughs. New York state will get another 30,000, Schumer said.

The doses are allocated based on case burden and high-risk population, according to the senator, so the heavily weighted allocation for New York comes as no surprise.

Thousands of vaccine appointments are continuously being scooped up within a half-hour of opening, and the state has warned New Yorkers in recent allocation rounds that they may be insufficient to cover everyone eligible who wants one.

Thursday’s federal stockpile release is part of a series of intensifying efforts to contain America’s still-growing and already largest-ever monkeypox outbreak. Anyone can get the disease, but the vaccine already exists, unlike with COVID-19.

“As we learned throughout the pandemic, vaccines not only save lives, but they contain the spread of the virus. Containing Monkeypox, our latest public health challenge, demands the same kind of resolve and focus,” Schumer said. “For weeks, I have been on the phone with each and every agency working to overcome monkeypox. We know our biggest hurdle right now is that we need more vaccines, and I’ve told the FDA, we need those vaccines in New York state.” 

Calling the latest allocations a “big win for public health, and New York,” Schumer acknowledged more work must be done, “but today marks a critical step in that fight and delivers a huge sigh of relief to New Yorkers waiting for their monkeypox vaccine. More are on the way.”

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul cheered the additional vaccine doses coming to her state, but added that the vaccines “will be delivered over the next four to six weeks” throughout the state.

“With more than one-quarter of all cases in the U.S., New Yorkers, and especially our LGBTQ+ community, remain among the hardest-hit. We will continue to advocate to the federal government for our fair share of vaccines based on the disease burden impacting New York,” Hochul said.

Also on Thursday, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett declared monkeypox an imminent threat to public heath, which will allow local health departments will have access to reimbursement from the state after other federal and state funds get depleted.

As for surrounding states, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wrote a letter to the federal government earlier in the week asking for more vaccine doses, pleading that his state had not been giving its fair share. He also announced two new vaccine sites in Bergen and Camden counties.

Meanwhile in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said he’s confident the virus can still be contained — especially compared to COVID — if states get the resources they need.

“When New York City sneezes Connecticut catches a cold,” he said. “I believe this will be a narrower population much less likely to be transmitted broadly but be careful.”

As of Thursday, the CDC reports 4,639 confirmed monkeypox or orthopox virus (the same family) cases across the United States. Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming and Montana are the only four states without a confirmed case, though that doesn’t mean monkeypox isn’t already spreading in those areas.

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Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci called the outbreak a “serious problem” said the White House was considered establishing a monkeypox coordinator role similar to its COVID one to streamline response, distribution and other outreach efforts.

The New York State Department of Health listed steps people should take in order to help prevent the spread of monkeypox:

• Ask sexual partners whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox.
• Avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other monkeypox-related symptoms.
• Contact a healthcare provider following exposure or symptoms, and check with your local county health department about vaccine eligibility.
• New Yorkers who receive the JYNNEOS vaccine should receive both doses, given four-weeks apart, and stay vigilant until fully vaccinated, two weeks following the second dose.
• If you or your healthcare provider suspect you may have monkeypox, isolate at home. If you can, stay in a separate area from other family members and pets.
• Follow reputable sources of health information, including NYSDOH, CDC, and your local county health department.

Source: NBC New York

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