White House Declares Monkeypox Outbreak a Public Health Emergency

The White House on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a designation that frees emergency funding and aims to improve the distribution of vaccines and treatments.

The announcement comes amid criticism that the Biden administration has not responded fast enough to the severity of the outbreak, causing to shortages of vaccines and diagnostic tests even as cases have soared.

There have been more than 6,617 cases confirmed cases in the U.S., but that is belied to be significantly undercounted.  The majority of U.S. cases are concentrated in the LGBQT+  community, primarily among men who are engaged with sex with men.

A public health emergency can trigger funding and open up more resources for additional aspects of a federal response. It also allows the government to contract for treatment and other medical supplies and equipment, as well as for emergency hospital services.

The monkeypox public health emergency determination lasts for 90 days – but can be extended by the Secretary of Health.

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