New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared the state’s monkeypox outbreak a “State Disaster Emergency” on Friday.
The executive order enables many types of health care workers, from EMTs to midwives, to administer vaccines as they come in. It also requires that health care providers send vaccine data back to the state, so that health officials can track the rollout.
“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 in a statement. “My team and I are working around the clock to secure more vaccines, expand testing capacity, and responsibly educate the public on how to stay safe during this outbreak.”
New York is leading the nation in monkeypox cases. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state has logged 1,345 cases of the illness. And that’s almost certainly an undercount: The city’s health department says that many cases may have gone undiagnosed.
The announcement comes just one day after State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett gave the outbreak yet another scary-sounding title. She called it an “imminent threat to public health,” a designation that unlocks more funding for local health departments.
That funding is sorely needed. New York City’s sexual health clinics have been decimated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with just half fully open. And while monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, the clinics are a vital resource for the city’s LGBTQ community, which has been disproportionately affected by the current outbreak.
The good news is that New York is getting a new influx of monkeypox vaccines, which have been in short supply since the outbreak began. Hochul announced earlier this week that the federal government is giving the state 110,000 more doses, just under three-quarters of which will be distributed in New York City. The vaccine doses will be distributed over the next four to six weeks.
For updates about monkeypox from the state health department, New Yorkers can text “MONKEYPOX” (or “MONKEYPOXSP” for Spanish-language updates) to 81336.