The mayor of San Francisco announced a legal state of emergency Thursday over the growing number of monkeypox cases, allowing officials to mobilize personnel and resources and cut through red tape to get ahead of a public health crisis reminiscent of the AIDS epidemic that devastated the city.
The declaration, which takes effect Monday, was welcomed by gay advocates who have grown increasingly frustrated by what they called San Francisco’s lackluster response to a virus that so far has affected primarily men who have sex with men, although anyone can get infected.
The city has 261 cases, out of about 800 in California and 4,600 nationwide, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. A national shortage of vaccine has resulted in people waiting in line for hours for scarce doses, often to be turned away when the shots run out.
“San Francisco is an epicenter for the country. Thirty percent of all cases in California are in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip.
San Francisco shut down its primary monkeypox vaccination clinic earlier this week after it ran out of doses, saying it had only received 7,800 doses of a requested 35,000.
“San Francisco was at the forefront of the public health responses to HIV and COVID-19, and we will be at the forefront when it comes to monkeypox,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco. “We can’t and won’t leave the LGTBQ community out to dry.”
Mayor London Breed planned a news conference later Thursday.