Local public health and elected officials today announced the declaration of a local health emergency to respond to monkeypox in the San Diego region.
The action does not indicate that San Diegans are at increased risk of contracting the virus, but is intended to reassure the public that local health authorities are working proactively to stay ahead of any challenges that may arise. The local health emergency must be ratified within 7 days by the County Board of Supervisors, and then ratified again every 30 days as needed.
“Our county has taken monkeypox very seriously from the beginning and those efforts will continue,” said Nathan Fletcher, chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, who was joined by other elected officials in announcing the statement. “Today, the county is declaring a local health emergency for monkeypox to align our efforts with the approach taken by the state of California. This will also allow us to strengthen our county’s vaccination, prevention, education and treatment initiatives.”
The emergency declaration empowers the County to:
- respond more effectively to monkeypox
- find and use state resources for vaccine administration
- Leverage public health infrastructure related to testing, contact tracing, and case investigation, as well as community outreach and engagement
- ensure county health professionals and other local stakeholders have all the necessary tools at their disposal
“All of these strategies were developed and strengthened during the response to COVID-19,” said Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH, county public health officer. “To prevent the spread of monkeypox infection throughout the community, the key is prevention, and this includes vaccinations.”
The County has already taken several steps to address this emerging threat. It has been working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community to develop messages, educational materials, and administer the limited number of vaccines coming to the area. The County has also been reaching out to other local jurisdictions and community organizations.
The County has held a forum, mass vaccination clinics, and many other outreach efforts. To date, 3,987 doses of monkeypox vaccine have been received in San Diego County.
As of August 1, a total of 46 confirmed and probable cases have been reported. Only one patient required hospitalization and there have been no deaths. All cases were male, and their ages ranged between 27 and 58 years. The region’s case count will now be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
Two vaccination events have already taken place, in which more than 1,400 monkeypox vaccines were administered over four days. The county has also made doses of the vaccine available to local health care providers. Some doses of monkeypox vaccine are also available at County Public Health Centers and STD clinics.
The County has also distributed 110 treatment courses of Tecovirimat, a drug used to treat monkeypox, to local healthcare organizations and County clinics.
Given the monkeypox vaccine shortage and following guidance from the California Department of Public Health, the County is focusing on delivering the first doses to as many high-risk individuals as possible. For the current outbreak, that includes men who have sex with multiple male partners and close contacts of reported cases. The county’s approach is in line with strategies in other large jurisdictions with monkeypox outbreaks, including New York City and San Francisco.
The state allocates vaccines to counties based on the number of cases of monkeypox, as well as the number of cases of early syphilis in men reported in a region.
The county also installed a text message alert system to send San Diegans real-time information about monkeypox in the region. To sign up to receive the messages, text COSD MONKEYPOX to 468-311. A social media messaging and education campaign is underway to raise awareness of monkeypox.
For more information on monkeypox, how to prevent it, who should get vaccinated, visit the county’s monkeypox webpage. website or call 2-1-1.