WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. will declare a public health emergency to boost the federal response to the monkeypox outbreak that has already infected more than 6,600 Americans, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The announcement will free up federal funding and resources to fight the virus, which can cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. The people spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement.
The statement comes as the Biden administration has faced criticism over the pace of monkeypox vaccine availability. Clinics in major cities such as New York and San Francisco say they have not received enough of the two-shot vaccine to meet demand, and some have had to stop offering the second dose of the vaccine to ensure the first doses are delivered. The White House said it has made available more than 1.1 million doses of vaccine and helped boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests a week.
Monkeypox virus is transmitted through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, cuddling, and kissing, as well as sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. The people getting sick so far have mostly been men who have sex with men. However, health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone.
The announcement comes three days after the Biden administration named top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as White House coordinators to combat the monkeypox outbreak.
News of the expected statement was first reported Thursday by Politico.