ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Governor Kathy Hochul issued an Executive Order late Friday night declaring a State Disaster Emergency in response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
The declaration allows the state to respond faster to contain the virus and will allow health care professionals to take additional steps to get people vaccinated.
The Executive Order specifically extends the pool of those who can administer monkeypox vaccines, including EMS personnel, pharmacists and midwives; allows physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient-specific standing orders for vaccines; and requires providers to send vaccine data to the New York State Department of Health.
“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. “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.”
New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett just declared monkeypox an imminent threat in New York on Thursday. The state department of health has a dedicated website on the outbreak. Thousands of cases have been identified with the majority in New York City. In the Capital Region, cases have been placed in Albany, Greene and Columbia Counties.
Monkeypox is caused by an orthopox virus, which is related to smallpox. Commissioner Bassett said monkeypox is rarely fatal, but it is extremely painful due to lesions and scarring. It causes flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash that lasts two to four weeks. Infections spread through close physical contact between people or people and contaminated objects.
Treatment for monkeypox is primarily focused on relieving symptoms. Because smallpox is closely related to monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine can protect against both diseases. Evidence suggests that the smallpox vaccine can help prevent monkeypox infections and decrease the severity of the symptoms.
A vaccine rollout has begun by the state. The CDC currently recommends smallpox vaccination only in people who have been or are likely to be exposed to monkeypox.
New Yorkers can learn more about New York State’s first vaccine allocation from the federal government here and the second allocation here. For more information about monkeypox, including case counts by county, treatment, and care, visit: health.ny.gov/monkeypox.