‘Disaster emergency’ declaration for monkeypox gives New York greater ability to respond to outbreak: Hochul

Monkeypox state disaster emergency in New York
Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City’s vaccination sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York. The World Health Organization recently declared that the expanding monkeypox outbreak is a global emergency.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Late Friday night, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she declared a “state disaster emergency” throughout New York concerning the monkeypox outbreak — a maneuver that she says will allow the state to more quickly respond to the health crisis.

“After reviewing the latest data on the monkeypox outbreak in New York State, I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our aggressive ongoing efforts to confront this outbreak,” Hochul said in a July 29 statement. “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. It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which this outbreak is currently having a disproportionate impact on certain at-risk groups. That’s why 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.”

The governor’s executive order allows for more qualified health care professionals — including EMS personnel, pharmacists and midwives — to administer monkeypox vaccines. Doctors and certain nurse practitioners will also be able to issue non-patient specific standing orders for vaccines.

The state Health Department is also mandating that all providers send vaccine data to them.

Earlier in the week, the federal government announced it secured another 110,000 vaccine doses for New York state, which has struggled to keep up with the demand. The state has also expanded testing capacity and outreach efforts to make New Yorkers aware of the virus and its treatment.

Previously, state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett declared monkeypox as an “imminent threat to public safety.” The New York City Department of Health reported on July 29 that 1,289 people across the Five Boroughs have tested positive for the virus, and there are likely many more, undiagnosed cases.

At the moment, the vaccine’s eligibility is limited to men who have sex with men and transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals who are at least 18 years of age and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last two weeks. Anyone who has been a close contact of someone with monkeypox is also eligible to get jabbed.

Anyone interested in receiving text alerts regarding monkeypox cases, symptoms, testing and vaccinations can text “MONKEYPOX” to 81336 (for Spanish, text “MONKEYPOXESP” to the same number). 

Visit health.ny.gov/monkeypox for additional information about the illness.