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Health and Human Services Minister Xavier Becerra on Thursday said he was declaring a public health emergency over the pandemic. monkeypox outbreak.
“In light of changing circumstances on the ground, I am declaring a public health emergency for #monkeypox,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are ready to take our response to the next level fight this virus and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously.”
An outbreak of monkeypox has infected more than 6,600 Americans. The emergency frees up federal money and other resources to fight the virus, which can cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and acne on many parts of the body. The public health emergency could be extended, as happened during COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House said it provided more than 1.1 million doses of the vaccine and helped boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.
Last week the World Health Organization called monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases in over 70 countries. A global emergency is the WHO’s highest alert level, but this designation does not necessarily mean that a disease is particularly contagious or deadly.
California, Illinois and New York made statements last week, as did New York, San Francisco and San Diego County.
The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact and by sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. Health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone, but so far mostly men who have sex with men have become ill.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration named top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House coordinators for the monkeypox outbreak.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.