- The US government has declared a public health emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 7,100 Americans.
- In recent years, public health measures to control outbreaks have increasingly faced legal challenges, but Gostin did not expect that to happen with monkeypox.
The federal government declared a public health emergency Thursday to reinforce the response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected over 7,100 Americans.
Head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, said that they are prepared to take their responsibility to the next level in addressing this virus and urge people to consider the monkeypox outbreak very serious.
The declaration by Health and Human Services (HHS) comes as the Biden administration has faced criticism over the availability of the monkeypox vaccine. Major clinics say they have not received enough of the two-shot vaccine to meet demand. Some clinics had to stop offering the second dose to ensure the first dose supply.
The White House said it has made over 1.1 million doses available to citizens and helped boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests a week.
The monkeypox virus spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, kissing and cuddling, and sharing bedding, towels and clothing. The people who have gotten sick so far have been men who have sex with men.
No one in the United States has died. A few deaths are reported in other countries. Health and Human Services can draw from emergency funds, hire or reassign staff to deal with the monkeypox outbreak and take further steps to control the virus under the declaration.
Gostin said the government of the United States has been too cautious and should have declared a national emergency earlier. Public health measures to control outbreaks have increasingly faced legal challenges recently, but Gostin did not expect that to happen with monkeypox.
He also noted that a public health emergency could be extended, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 26,000 cases are reported now in countries that traditionally have not seen monkeypox.
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