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New York governor declares monkeypox a ‘disaster emergency’

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(NEW YORK) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order Friday in response to the growing monekypox outbreak in the state and declared it to be a “disaster emergency.”

“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,” Gov. Hochul said. “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.”

According to data by the Centers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has the highest reported cases of monkeypox.

There have been 1383 reported cases of monkeypox in New York, according to state data and almost 5,000 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the executive order will allow the state to respond more quickly to the monkeypox outbreak and enable health care workers to help get more New Yorkers vaccinated.

Hochul’s declaration came a day after monkeypox was considered an “imminent threat” to the public health by New York state’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

Commissioner Barrett said in a statement that the designation meant that “local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional State reimbursement, after other Federal and State funding sources are maximized.”

Monkeypox is primarily spread from person to person contact through close and physical contact. A fever, muscle ache, chills, headache and fatigue are some of the symptoms. Sores and painful rashes also develop on a person’s body.

Most cases in the U.S. have been reported among the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men community and related to male-to-male sexual contact. Though health officials have repeatedly stressed that the virus can affect anyone who has close contact with people who have monkeypox. Those with weakened immune systems, pregnant people and children under the age of 8 may be at heightened risk for severe outcomes, according to the CDC.

“Every American should pay attention on monkeypox,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters Thursday. “Monkeypox is not COVID, but it is contagious. It is painful and can be dangerous.”

The World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern last week.

ABC News’ Matt J. Foster and Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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