New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency on Monday due to the continued spread of monkeypox.
“New York City now has over 1,200 reported cases, approximately 25 percent of cases nationally, and we are continuing to see the numbers rise,” Adams said in a statement. “This order will bolster our existing efforts to educate, vaccinate, test, and treat as many New Yorkers as possible.”
The move followed a similar announcement from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who declared a state disaster emergency on Friday night over the growing monkeypox outbreak. On Saturday, New York City issued a public health emergency declaration. The New York State Commissioner of Health declared monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health” on Thursday.
The local emergency declaration allows Adams to suspend some local laws and enact new rules in order to protect the health of city residents and control the virus’s spread.
On the state level, Hochul said, the declaration could lead to a swifter public health response and better vaccine distribution. It was enacted through executive order and allows EMS personnel, pharmacists, midwives, physicians and certified nurse practitioners to administer vaccines, the governor’s office said.
New York has recorded the most cases of the virus nationwide — 1,345 — followed by California with 799, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data last updated Friday.
New York State was already in the process of securing more vaccines, expanding testing, and distributing information via a website and a text notification system, the governor’s office said. On Thursday, Hochul said a new federal government allotment would mean 110,000 additional doses of the monkeypox vaccine for the state, for a total of 170,000 so far.
In a statement about New York City’s public health emergency declaration on Saturday, Mayor Adams and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s health department, estimated “that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure.”
Hochul emphasized the importance of getting vaccines to the communities most affected. The vast majority of cases worldwide have been among men who have sex with men, which was not the case in previous outbreaks of the virus.
All but 1% of US monkeypox cases so far are people who were assigned male at birth, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.
“It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently having a disproportionate impact on certain at-risk groups,” Hochul said on Friday.
Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact. The most common symptoms include a rash with lesions – reported in 99% of US cases so far – malaise, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Some patients have also reported chills, headache and muscle pain. The illness can last as long as four weeks.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended that men who have sex with men limit their number of sexual partners as a precaution.
Monkeypox cases have been reported this year in 71 countries where it was previously unknown or unreported, according to the CDC.
The US has recorded 5,189 cases this year, according to CDC data as of Friday.
The city of San Francisco declared its own state of emergency over the virus on Thursday.
Joe Studley other Dana Varinsky contributed.