Monkeypox not yet declared statewide medical emergency

While San Francisco declared monkeypox a medical emergency on Thursday, the California Department of Public Health has not yet declared a statewide medical emergency.

Though monkeypox is not nearly as transmissible as COVID-19, public concern continues to grow due to the recent rise in monkeypox cases.

Demand for the monkeypox vaccine in California has consistently exceeded supply, closing some inoculation sites that simply ran out of vaccine.

"As of July 28th, California has reported 786 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases from 27 local health departments and about 66% of those cases are coming are from the counties of San Francisco and L.A.," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, California Department of Public Health Director.

With no deaths and only 11 short-term hospitalizations, monkeypox has not yet risen to the level of a statewide medical emergency.

"At the moment, we're continuing to do everything that we're doing now right now, which is primarily really mobilizing the tremendous resources and infrastructure that we've built for COVID, and using it now for monkeypox," said Dr. Aragon.

Declaring a statewide medical emergency would allow the state to ramp up testing, issue contracts for necessary services and, of course, distribute and administer monkeypox vaccine.

So far, the state has received 37,000 vaccine doses, with 72,000 more on the way. They will be distributed to counties based on confirmed cases, as opposed to per capita per county.

"No single individual or community is to blame for the spread of any virus," said Aragon.

For those actually showing symptoms of monkeypox, an anti-viral medicine is available to clinicians from federal stockpiles to treat patients on request. But prevention through vaccines is, by far, the better route.