Pritzker declares monkeypox a statewide public health emergency

Government JB Pritzkerone on Monday declared the spreading monkeypox virus a statewide public health emergency.

Illinois has the third-highest number of monkeypox cases of any state, behind only New York and California. The governor’s office said Pritzker’s announcement, which marked the state as a “disaster zone,” would allow public health officials to respond more aggressively to the outbreak.

“MPV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to stop the spread,” Pritzker said in a statement.

The announcement, effective immediately and for 30 days, allows state agencies to more efficiently coordinate and use new tools in the fight against the disease, the governor’s statement said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health can now expand vaccine and testing capabilities with the help of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and gain access to state and federal recovery and aid funding, the statement said. The announcement will also help facilitate vaccination logistics, the statement said.

“These measures will allow the state to deploy all of our resources in fighting this disease and open efficient lines of communication and cooperation across state lines, to track monkeypox and improve tools and processes to prevent and address it.” A necessary step for,” Dr. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Pritzker’s emergency declaration follows an announcement made by the World Health Organization on 23 July. The mayor of San Francisco declared a state of emergency over the virus on Thursday, and the mayor of New York City announced one on Saturday.

Illinois is currently reporting 520 confirmed or estimated monkeypox cases, the governor’s statement said. About a tenth of the country’s cases have been reported in Illinois.

Most of the state’s cases have been in Chicago, which is one of the hardest-hit cities in the entire country. Chicago saw a sharp increase in reported infections last week, with a total of 326 cases reported as of Wednesday.

Chicago does not require a separate emergency declaration because the city is covered by the state’s declaration, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s Public Health Commissioner Alison Arvadi said in a joint statement.

“This emergency declaration brings an needed, increased focus on the monkeypox (MPV) outbreak that we are seeing here in Chicago, in our state and across the country,” he said in the statement. “Ultimately, we need more support from the federal level to fully address the threat MPV presents to our city.”

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The virus is spreading mostly among men who have sex with other men, public health officials at all levels have said. The Chicago Department of Public Health is targeting vaccination at that group, especially those who have multiple or unnamed partners, although there is nothing implicit about the disease being transmitted to men who have sex with men, says Arvadi. has repeatedly said.

“Here in Illinois we will make sure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe, while members are not stigmatized because they access critical health care,” Pritzker said.

The state has received 7,000 doses of the vaccine from the federal government and 13,000 more doses are expected in the near future, the statement said. Many of the doses received have already been shared with the Chicago Department of Health.

Health care providers and gay men across Chicago have called for a more robust response to the outbreak and more vaccines amid a national shortage. Pritzker called on the federal government in late July to ramp up vaccination efforts. The next day, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced that it would prioritize the first dose with the new vaccine stock, a move that was expected to delay the administration of several second shots.

The monkeypox virus related to smallpox was first detected in humans in 1970 and is endemic to parts of West and Central Africa. The illness often begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes, before progressing to a painful, distinctive, large rash all over the body that looks like a pimple or blisters. Monkeypox symptoms can last up to four weeks

jsheridan@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @jakesheridan_

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