Monkeypox Chicago: Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Declares Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency

CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency Monday to help coordinate a statewide response.

Declaring the state a “disaster area” allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to better coordinate with other state agencies and the federal government in immunization distribution and disease prevention.

Illinois currently has the third highest number of cases in the United States, according to the governor’s office.

MONKEYPOX | Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines

As of Friday, there are 330 cases of monkeypox in Chicago, where the focus continues to be on vaccinating those most at risk, despite low supplies.

TPAN in Edgewater had 100 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and they were quickly accounted for on Monday. People lined up even before the clinic opened.

“I don’t want to put anyone I love at risk,” Carlos Alfaro said. “If I get the virus, I can take it home, so that’s a big concern for me.”

“I think the LGBT community is more open about disease, but with that said,” Luis Castello said, “I think we all need to learn from our community. And everyone, no matter how they identify, needs to be cautious.”

Chris Mooney lives on the South Side of Chicago, but came to the North Side location after doing his own research to find a vaccine.

“Really, a lot of the clinics and places that were offering the vaccine were on the North Side,” Mooney said, “and then to find out, do you have to make an appointment, is it walk-in, first-come/first-serve?”

In Hyde Park, the Center for the Elimination of HIV has been and continues to do outreach with its mobile unit to try to share information with those who cannot easily access monkeypox vaccination clinics, especially those with compromised immune systems.

“Because your immune system may not be the healthiest in terms of responding to that,” said Noel Green, outreach manager for the Center for the Elimination of HIV. “Making sure they are informed before they are prepared and vaccinated before they are introduced is critical to their survival.”

The center is planning more outreach and vaccination events depending on the availability of the vaccine.

Full Statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady

“This emergency declaration brings much needed focus to the Monkeypox (MPV) outbreak we are seeing here in Chicago, throughout our state and across the country. Since the beginning of this outbreak, the Chicago Department of Public Health has been working diligently with clinical and community partners to raise awareness and vaccinate residents most at risk and we will continue to do so. Ultimately, however, we need more support from the federal level to fully address the threat that MPV poses to our city. We hope this statement joins a chorus of others across the country and encourages the rapid growth and distribution ofvaccines. This declaration will allow the state to use emergency procurement powers and directly engage other state agencies, such as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), in the statewide response. Chicago does not need a separate emergency declaration as we are covered by the state and also already have a local emergency procurement process; a strong local distribution network; and a diverse group of clinical and community partners working to raise awareness and vaccinate Chicagoans most at risk.”

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