New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul Saturday issued an executive order, responding to cases of monkeypox in the Empire State.
Her executive action declaring a State Disaster Emergency was prompted by 1,345 cases of the disease in New York, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated N.Y. had a 2021 population of 19.8 million.
Monkeypox virus is a virus that causes a disease with similar symptoms to smallpox but less severe, according to the World Health Organization. While smallpox was eliminated in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in countries of central and West Africa. It is a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans.
“Most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men,” the international health organization stated.
WHO officials noted that studies have shown individuals vaccinated against smallpox do not contract monkeypox 85 percent of the time. The ones who do generally experience milder courses of symptoms.
New York’s new governor said she declared a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen efforts to confront the outbreak.
“More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State, and we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal as we respond,” Hochul said in a Saturday statement. “It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently having a disproportionate impact on certain at-risk groups.”
The governor said she and her team are working tirelessly to get more monkepox vaccines, expand testing capacity and provide public education about preventing and treating the disease.
Hochul’s order expands the pool of eligible individuals able to administer vaccine shots, which includes Emergency Medical Service personnel, pharmacists and midwives.
It also allows physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue nonpatient-specific standing orders for vaccines, according to a Fox News report. The report noted her order also requires health care providers to send vaccine data to the New York State Department of Health.
NYS Depatment of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett declared Thursday that monkeypox is an imminent threat to public health.
The state’s health commissioner noted the disease had been rare in the U.S. but officials are worried about recent spreads of it, especially in N.Y.
“There can be a significant amount of pain associated with symptoms,” Bassett said. “Pain may interfere with basic functions such as eating, urination and defecation, which can cause distress and compound problems for the patient.”
She said the most common way the virus is spread is direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs and/or body fluids. It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease but it may be spread by face-to-face contact or intimate physical contact, she explained.
“Anyone can get monkeypox, but certain populations are being affected by this outbreak,” Bassett said, “including gay/bisexual men, other men who have sex with men and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.”
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.