San Francisco declares health emergency over monkeypox virus

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San Francisco officials declared a state of emergency Thursday over the growing spread of monkeypox cases in the city

In a statement, Mayor London Breed said the virus does not spread easily like COVID-19 but that “this is the first time it has spread in so many countries at once, and we are seeing rising rates of cases in San Francisco.”

The declaration will allow Breed and other officials to mobilize resources to combat the virus. So far, the city has confirmed 261 monkeypox cases, while calling itself the epicenter of the virus. 

Health officials anticipate that number will grow in the coming weeks. Part of the problem is the scarcity of vaccines. Health officials requested 35,000 doses a few weeks ago, but they have barely received one-third of the request. 

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“The most critical need right now is for more vaccines. The federal government distributes vaccine to state health departments and then the California Department of Public Health allocates to counties, such as San Francisco,” Breed said. “We have no control over the vaccine amount we receive. San Francisco needs more support, and we need more action. That’s why we are declaring a Local Emergency.”

The most affected segment of the city is the LGBTQ community, officials said. 

“Additionally, our Latino community is accounting for 30% of cases, even though Latinos are only 15% of our population,” said Breed. “So we know where the most at-risk people are, and we know what we need to do — which is get them more vaccines.”

The emergency order goes into effect Monday and must be approved by the Board of Supervisors within a week. 

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The panel has agreed to meet next week to consider the measure. 

The move comes as the Biden administration is considering the declaration of a public health emergency over monkeypox in the coming days.