The White House on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency as the virus continues to spread across the country.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra made the announcement, citing an increase in cases across the U.S. and growing concerns regarding access to treatment for the virus.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” said Becerra during a briefing with media and officials.
The U.S. announcement comes on the heels of the World Health Organization’s own declaration on July 23 that monkeypox represents a “public health emergency of international concern.” More than 25,000 cases have been recorded as of Wednesday across 87 countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The administration’s decision would require states to report their case numbers and ensure better coordination in the federal response. But critics have argued that this will not solve existing challenges, including a shortage of monkeypox vaccines, sources told The Washington Post.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed FEMA’s Robert Fenton as the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis as Fenton’s deputy. The pair will work with local and state officials to “equitably” increase the availability of testing, treatment and vaccination for…