150,000 New Yorkers At Risk For Monkeypox, Officials Declare Public Health Emergency
Alexander Spatari via Getty Images

Monkeypox cases continue to rise in New York City, prompting officials to declare a public health emergency on Saturday while estimating that approximately 150,000 Big Apple residents face possible exposure.

The emergency declaration went into effect immediately and has allowed the state’s health department to issue orders under the New York City Health Code and access more funds and resources to “slow the spread” of the virus. New York’s Department of Heath reported at least 1,383 cases as of July 29. Of those numbers, New York City alone makes up for 1,289 cases. 

“This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment,” Mayor Eric Adams and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the head of the New York City health and mental hygiene department, said in a joint statement.

Two days earlier, New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order declaring a State Disaster Emergency in response to 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. “It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently having a disproportionate impact on certain at-risk groups.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the U.S. has at least 5,189 reported cases of Monkeypox, which spreads through skin-to-skin and extended face-to-face contact, hugging, kissing, and sexual intercourse. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. The disease can also cause painful rashes and blisters.

While Monkeypox is not spread exclusively through sex, the disease infects gay men at a far higher rate than any other demographic. 

The Biden administration could declare Monkeypox a national public health emergency in the coming days, according to Politico. The announcement would come from the Department of Health and Human Services and give the federal agency the ability to new money and appoint new personnel. 

Last weekend, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the virus a “public health emergency of international concern.” Recent numbers indicate more than 18,000 cases and five deaths across 78 countries have spread since the current outbreak began spreading in May.

Roughly 70% of those cases were reported from Europe, while the Americas make up about 25%.

New York City marks the second major city in the United States, following San Francisco, to declare a public health emergency.

Zach Jewell contributed to this report.

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