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Monkeypox: SF Declares State of Emergency as Virus Spreads and Vaccines Remain Scarce

Written by Kevin Truong, Josh KoehnPublished Jul. 28, 2022 • 2:45pm
Mayor London Breed speaks about monkeypox and the city’s state of emergency during a press conference at City Hall in San Francisco, California on Thursday, July 28, 2022. | Josh Edelson for The Standard

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San Francisco announced a state of emergency Thursday as the monkeypox outbreak continues to grow across the city and vaccines remain limited.

The city’s Department of Public Health confirmed 261 cases of monkeypox, and there are reportedly 799 cases across California, according to Mayor London Breed’s office. The country has recorded 4,600 cases overall among more than 19,000 cases globally (in 76 countries).  

“San Francisco showed during COVID that early action is essential for protecting public health,” Breed said in a statement. “We know that this virus impacts everyone equally—but we also know that those in our LGBTQ community are at greater risk right now. Many people in our LGBTQ community are scared and frustrated. This local emergency will allow us to continue to support our most at-risk, while also better preparing for what’s to come.”  

Grant Colfax, the city’s director of health, said the emergency declaration, which goes into effect on Monday, should unlock resources to better serve the city.

“Our COVID-19 response has taught us that it is imperative that we mobilize city resources,” he said. “The declaration helps us ensure we have all the tools available to augment our outreach, testing and treatment, especially to the LGBTQ+ who remain at highest risk for Monkeypox.”

The announcement comes one day after state Sen. Scott Wiener, who has been persistently sounding the alarm about the state of the outbreak in recent weeks, called for the city and the state to declare a state of emergency.

“This is an emergency, the spread of the virus has not been controlled and we don’t have enough vaccines, testing, or treatments,” Wiener told The Standard on Thursday. “Declaring a state of emergency will create more flexibility around testing, vaccination and contracting and just makes a lot of sense.”

While the state of emergency won’t immediately increase overall supply of the vaccine, it will help to mobilize city resources, accelerate emergency planning and allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments.

Wiener said the initial federal government response to the outbreak was halting, adding that federal authorities are “now moving with a greater sense of urgency.”

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Earlier Thursday, the San Francisco Health Department tweeted that it had received 4,220 monkeypox vaccines that it will distribute to clinics throughout the city.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, speaks about monkeypox and the city’s state of emergency during a press conference at City Hall in San Francisco, California on Thursday, July 28, 2022. | Josh Edelson for The Standard

The vaccine clinic at San Francisco General Hospital was closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of a lack of supply.

While much of the attention around vaccine availability and distribution has been focused on the Jynneos vaccine, state and local authorities have also weighed increased use of ACAM2000, another smallpox vaccine that has been shown to be effective against monkeypox.

However, it comes with additional risk factors when compared to Jynneos, particularly for those who are immunosuppressed.

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Kevin Truong can be reached at [email protected]
Josh Koehn can be reached at [email protected]


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