Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday declared a state of emergency to speed efforts to combat the monkeypox outbreak, becoming the second state in three days to take the step.
Newsom said the declaration will help California coordinate a government-wide response, seek more vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts on where people can get treatment and vaccination.
“We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization,” Newsom said in a statement announcing his declaration.
State health officials reports nearly 800 cases of monkeypox have been reported in California.
The monkeypox virus spreads through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, which can include hugging, cuddling and kissing, as well as through the sharing of bedding, towels and clothing. People getting sick so far have mainly been men who have sex with men, though health officials note that the virus can infect anyone.
The type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak is rarely fatal, and people usually recover within weeks. But the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are painful, and they can prevent swallowing or bowel movements if in the throat or anus.
The declaration in California came after a similar one in New York state on Saturday, and in San Francisco on Thursday. Newsom’s administration had said as recently as Friday that it was too soon for such a declaration.