NY governor declares disaster in state over monkeypox outbreak

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) declared a disaster in the Empire state Friday amid rising cases of the monkeypox virus.

“I, Kathy Hochul, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Laws of the State of New York, hereby find, pursuant to Section 28 of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, that a disaster has occurred in New York State,” the declaration reads.

“The Executive Order enables us to respond more swiftly, and allows health care professionals to take additional steps that will help get more New Yorkers vaccinated,” Hochul said in a thread on Twitter announcing the move.

The declaration, which will be in effect through August 28, will expand the ranks of medical professionals who can administer monkeypox vaccinations to include midwives, EMS providers and pharmacists. It also allows physicians and nurse practitioners to issue “non-patient specific” standing orders for vaccines and requires that health care providers send vaccination data back to the state.

The news comes amid a rising number of monkeypox cases in the United States. According to Hochul, more than one in four of the country’s monkeypox cases are in New York state. There have been 1,838 cases of the virus reported in New York as of Friday, per the declaration.

The virus can cause swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, rash and eventually lesions that fall off.

Anyone can catch the virus. However, a high proportion of cases have been recorded among men who have sex with men.

“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 in a statement announcing the disaster declaration.

The news comes after San Fransisco declared a state of emergency over the monkeypox outbreak in the city. In a release announcing the declaration, the city stated that it had recorded 260 cases of monkeypox, making up almost a third of the nearly 800 cases in California. 

Earlier this month, a coalition of LGBT groups — mostly based in California — warned that the state could become the epicenter of the virus and urged the Biden administration to expand access to vaccines and testing.

The administration has come under fire from local authorities and lawmakers in Washington over concerns that the federal government’s response to the outbreak has not been adequate.

Federal regulators on Wednesday approved an additional 800,000 doses of a vaccine used to prevent monkeypox made in Denmark for use as patients push for access to scarce shots.

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