President Biden on Tuesday announced a team to coordinate and manage the White House’s monkeypox response efforts, as the virus spreads in cities and states across the nation.
The president named Robert Fenton, a regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to serve as White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis to serve as the deputy coordinator.
“Fenton and Deaskalakis will lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments,” the White House said Tuesday.
Fenton has twice served as acting administrator of FEMA and has led “multiple challenging prevention, response and recovery operations” throughout his career.
Daskalakis, a leading public health expert, is currently the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of HIV Prevention. The White House said he “is an expert on health issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ communities.” Daskalakis previously oversaw management of infectious diseases for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The White House said both officials played “critical roles in making COVID vaccines more accessible for underserved communities and closing the equity gap in adult vaccination rates.”
Chief medical advisor to the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, added that the team “will allow the Biden administration to further accelerate and strengthen its monkeypox response.”
The two officials are expected to coordinate and manage response efforts across the White House and all federal departments and agencies, as well as work with local, state, national and international stakeholders on “tracking and fighting the spread” of monkeypox.
California, Illinois and New York have declared monkeypox states of emergencies.
The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in the United States on May 18.
So far, the Biden administration has made more than 1.1 million doses of vaccine available to states and cities across the country to control the spread of the virus, and has expanded testing capacity from 6,000 tests per week to more than 80,000 tests per week.
“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox,” the CDC notes on its website.
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