Currently, more than 6,600 monkeypox infections have been reported in the U.S., and approximately 25 percent of cases have been reported in New York City. It is imperative that the federal government does not make the same mistakes as it did in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent action is needed to mitigate the spread of this virus. It is vital that Americans receive clearer guidance on isolation when infected, explicit advice on protecting people at risk, and improved testing and contact tracing.
Since May, when this virus began spreading rapidly across the country, I have repeatedly called on the Biden Administration to take urgent action to slow the spread:
I am proud to have been the first Member of Congress to lead a letter to the administration about the monkeypox outbreak. Last month, I co-led a letter to the Biden Administration requesting that the President take advantage of his authorities to declare monkeypox a public health emergency. I also co-led a resolution in Congress urging the Biden Administration to declare a public health emergency. Last week, I was pleased that the Biden Administration acted on my request to make this declaration. The declaration will allow the federal government to quickly dispatch vaccines and treatments, accumulate data on cases, and provide additional funding for our response efforts to help slow the spread of this virus.
I was also proud to lead a letter with more than 100 of my democratic colleagues urging the Biden Administration to allocate $100 million to specifically expand vaccine and testing access in health clinics. Health clinics are lifelines in communities in New York City and across the country, and new funding is urgently needed to support them in acquiring testing kits, vaccines, additional staff, and other resources to provide the intensive care required to diagnose and treat patients with monkeypox. I am proud that over 100 organizations and government agencies endorsed my letter, including the New York State and California Departments of Public Health.
In addition, I worked with several New York leaders to call on New York City to create a pre-registration system to expedite vaccine distributions and make the process more equitable. This system would allow more people to access the vaccine and help eliminate delays and confusion during the appointment booking process.
I am glad that the Biden Administration is taking this virus seriously, and I will continue to lead my colleagues in Congress on this issue.
Additionally, it is important to note that everyone—regardless of age or sexual orientation—can get monkeypox if they come into contact with the virus. To learn more about ways to protect yourself from monkeypox, access testing, or get the vaccine, visit the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website here.