San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a state of emergency on Thursday over the growing number of monkeypox cases in the city.
The legal action, which takes effect Monday, August 1, allows officials to mobilize personnel and resources and reduce red tape to anticipate the growing public health crisis. City officials hope the statement will also pressure the federal government to increase the available supply of the monkeypox vaccine.
“We’re in a very scary place,” Breed said at a City Hall news conference on Thursday. “We don’t want to be ignored by the federal government.”
Earlier this week, San Francisco had to close its primary monkeypox vaccination clinic at SF General Hospital for the second time this month after running out of doses again, fending off long lines of people. The SFDPH said it expected to receive an additional 4,220 doses of vaccine this week, bringing the total number of vaccines received to around 12,000 – about a third of the supply they requested from the federal government.
“We have a solution in vaccines and we want to make sure everyone who asks for a vaccine gets one,” Breed said.
News of the statement – which comes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – has been welcomed by LGBTQ+ advocates who are increasingly frustrated with what they call a lackluster response from the city and the federal government to a virus that can infect anyone, but has so many communities of gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men were by far primarily affected.
“We know the challenges of what happens in San Francisco when we put public health on the back burner,” Breed said, “during the AIDS crisis, when San Francisco was pretty much left on its own.”
At the onset of San Francisco’s HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the majority of infections were among gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men. City health director Dr. Grant Colfax praised how local healthcare providers responded to HIV/AIDS at the time and said the response informed how San Francisco is currently reacting to monkeypox.
“As a gay man who came out and underwent medical training during the height of the AIDS epidemic,” Colfax said, “I have personally and professionally experienced indifference, homophobia, and stigmatization of medical and public health institutions towards prioritizing HIV prevention and care.
“But San Francisco’s community and responsive care systems were a notable exception.”