“San Francisco is declaring a Local Public Health Emergency for monkeypox,” London Breed, the mayor of the city, announced. “This declaration will go into effect starting Aug. 1 and will allow us to prepare and dedicate resources to prevent the spread.”
The declaration is a legal document that allows authorities to mobilize city resources, streamline staffing, and coordinate agencies across the city, as well as speed up emergency planning and allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments, she said in a statement.
The move also raises awareness in San Francisco about how to stop the spread of monkeypox, Breed added.
The city has at least 281 cases out of about 800 in California and about 4,907 across the United States as of late July 28—including probable cases—according to data from San Francisco’s health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Cases of monkeypox have increased in California since late June—the end of Pride Month.
“San Francisco is an epicenter for the country. Thirty percent of all cases in California are in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip.
San Francisco shut down its primary monkeypox vaccination clinic earlier this week after it ran out of doses, saying it had only received 7,800 doses of a requested 35,000.
“That is not nearly enough, and the reality is we are going to need far more than 35,000 vaccines to protect our LGBTQ community and to slow the spread of this virus,” Breed said.
A study published in the Journal of New England Medicine on July 21—the first major peer-reviewed study of monkeypox infections—indicated that a vast majority of people with monkeypox were gay or bisexual men, and a vast majority of the infections were suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in 95 percent of those infected. Researchers had observed monkeypox infection across 16 countries between April and June, when cases began to be reported in countries outside of Africa.
“San Francisco was at the forefront of the public health responses to HIV and COVID-19, and we will be at the forefront when it comes to monkeypox,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco. “We can’t and won’t leave the LGTBQ community out to dry.”
The San Francisco mayor clarified that officials “are not implementing behavior restrictions or other measures like we did under COVID.”
“This is all about having the resources and ability to move quickly to deploy these resources,” Breed said.
She said the emergency declaration “must be adopted by the Board of Supervisors within a week,” adding on July 28 that the board “has agreed to convene an emergency meeting next week to consider this emergency.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on July 23 declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, citing the global growth in cases—even though a special advisory committee did not reach a consensus on whether to declare the global health emergency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.