July 29 (UPI) — Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a monkeypox disaster emergency as 1,383 cases have been reported across New York State.
The disaster emergency declaration has been issued through Aug. 28 and authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in containing and recovering from the outbreak.
“I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our ongoing efforts to confront the monkeypox outbreak,” Hochul said in a statement to Twitter.
“This 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 further noted that more than 25% of monkeypox cases in the United States are in New York, where it is “currently having a disproportionate impact on at-risk groups.”
“We are working around the clock to secure more vaccines, expand testing capacity, and educate New Yorkers on how to stay safe,” Hochul said.
Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact between people, which the New York State Department of Health notes “means anyone can get monkeypox,” though the current outbreak has primarily affected gay men.
“Health officials are concerned because monkeypox is spreading, and cases of monkeypox are presenting in ways not typically seen in past monkeypox outbreaks,” the state’s health department website reads.
“Although the current strain of monkeypox that is circulating in the U.S. is rarely fatal, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.”
Vaccination supplies from the federal government against monkeypox are currently limited, so eligibility has been limited to those in areas with a high rate of transmission and those at a high risk of recent exposure.
Hochul announced on July 15 that New York had already received more than 28,000 doses of the vaccine and that another 32,785 were on their way from the federal government.