The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency Thursday after weeks of criticism that the administration wasn’t taking the threat of the virus seriously enough.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra can declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act, freeing up additional federal resources to help respond to a viral outbreak. The U.S. is still in the midst of an official public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 6,617 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed within the U.S. so far, but no Americans have died of the virus. It’s reached 48 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A majority of cases in the U.S. and Europe have been confirmed in homosexual men, although five children were recently discovered to have contracted the virus as well. Ninety-seven percent of monkeypox patients who have provided demographic information are men who have sex with other men, a CDC official said in July.
Fifty House Democrats wrote to the Biden administration in July asking them to declare a public health emergency over monkeypox. Critics of the administration have argued its response has been too slow, with vaccines hard to come by and public urgency about the virus lacking. The World Health Organization (WHO) already declared an emergency over the virus earlier in July, and several states declared a state of emergency due to the virus in recent days. (RELATED: Area Man Shocked To Have Contracted Monkeypox After 20-Man Birthday Orgy)
Health officials have shipped more than 300,000 doses of Jynneos’ vaccine for the virus to states so far, and the administration is working to procure more than 700,000 more doses from a facility in Denmark. Five million more doses have been ordered and will be delivered by mid-2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has said.