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New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday declared a state of emergency over the monkeypox outbreak that has now infected more than 1,200 people in the city, representing a quarter of all cases nationwide.
Adams said his order will bolster the city’s efforts “to educate, vaccinate, test, and treat as many New Yorkers as possible and ensure a whole-of-government response to this outbreak.”
Adams’ state of emergency will allow him to suspend local laws and implement new health rules.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has already declared a state disaster emergency over monkeypox, and the state health department has called monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health.”
New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said as many as 150,000 city residents could be at risk of infection.
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency on July 23 and San Francisco’s mayor on Thursday announced a state of emergency over the growing number of cases.
The once-rare disease has been established in parts of central and western Africa for decades but was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
To date, there have been more than 22,000 monkeypox cases reported in nearly 80 countries since May, with about 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo. On Friday, Brazil and Spain reported deaths linked to monkeypox, the first reported outside Africa. Spain reported a second monkeypox death Saturday.
The virus spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact as well as sharing bedding, towels and clothing. In Europe and North America, it has spread primarily among men who have sex with men, though health officials emphasize that the virus can infect anyone.
The type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak is rarely fatal, and people usually recover within weeks. But the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are painful.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.