LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set Tuesday to ratify a local emergency declaration in response to the monkeypox outbreak.
Board Chair Holly Mitchell issued a proclamation late Monday declaring the emergency in Los Angeles County, where 400 monkeypox cases have been identified so far — nearly the double the amount from a week ago.
“This proclamation is critical in helping us get ahead of this virus,” Mitchell said in a statement. “By declaring a local emergency, it allows us to cut through the red tape to better dedicate resources and educate residents on how to protect themselves and help stop the spread. It will also allow the county to quickly administer vaccines as more become available and to take the necessary efforts to obtain supplies and enhance outreach and awareness.”
As part of the proclamation, the Board of Supervisors will request recovery assistance be made available under the California Disaster Assistance Act, and that the state expedite access to state and federal resources and any other appropriate federal disaster relief programs.
The Board of Supervisors will also direct county departments to implement all assessment, assistance and monitoring efforts as applicable.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency for California on Monday in response to the increase of monkeypox cases in the state. New York also issued an emergency declaration, as has San Francisco.
Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote on Twitter Monday she supports the emergency declaration.
“I’m hopeful this will help vaccination efforts and ultimately help slow the spread of this virus,” Hahn said in a tweet.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement the county “needs to draw down all the support available to accelerate the distribution of vaccines and resources to those at risk and suffering from this terrible disease. I will work to ensure we’re doing so quickly and efficiently. We don’t have any time to waste.”
As of Monday, a total of 824 monkeypox cases were confirmed in California — the second-highest of any state, behind New York’s 1,390 — while nationwide, the aggregate count was at 5,811, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were roughly 400 cases in Los Angeles County as of Monday, primarily in gay men.
Monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, resulting from infectious rashes and scabs, though respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes, such as sexual intercourse, can also lead to transmission, according to the CDC. It can also be transmitted through the sharing of items such as bedding and towels.
Symptoms include fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever and fatigue. There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox.
According to health officials, the vaccine can prevent infection if given before or shortly after exposure to the virus.
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are at increased risk of contracting the virus, according to the CDC.
Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to lobby federal health officials for more monkeypox vaccine supplies and boosted funding for testing and administration of the shots. The county has been slowly expanding eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine, but supplies remain extremely limited.
In Los Angeles County, monkeypox vaccines are available to people confirmed by the Department of Public Health to have had high- or immediate- risk contact with a known monkeypox patient, and to people who attended an event or visited a venue where they was a high risk of exposure to a confirmed case. Those people are generally identified through county contact-tracing efforts, and they will be notified by the county.
Shots are also available for gay and bisexual men and transgender people with a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past year.
Also eligible for the shots are gay or bisexual men or transgender people who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxix, or PrEP, or who attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners — such as at a sauna, bathhouse or sex club — in the past 21 days.
People who believe they fall into any of the criteria can contact their health care provider to see if that provider can administer the vaccine.
Qualified people who do not have a health care provider — or whose provider does not carry the vaccine — can either make an appointment at a designated vaccine clinic or visit a walk-in location. Information is available at ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypox. A list of monkeypox vaccine locations is available at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/DPHMonkeypoxSchedule.pdf.
The county has also activated a website where residents can fill out an online form to see if they may be eligible for a shot and pre-register to be added to a waiting list.
People who register at the site and are eligible for the vaccine will receive a text message when it is available, with information on where to get the shot.
The registration website is ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypoxsignup.
The vaccine is a two-shot regimen, so additional supplies will be reserved to provide second doses to those who received the initial shot.