San Francisco’s mayor announced a state of emergency on Thursday in response to the increasing number of monkeypox cases, allowing authorities to combat the public health crisis similarly to how they did with the AIDS epidemic.
“We are in a very scary situation. Furthermore, we don’t want the federal government to overlook our needs. In recent weeks, a large number of LGBT leaders have also requested further aid, assistance, and support, “said London Breed, the mayor.
She stated that the city is “in desperate need of vaccines.”
The proclamation, which takes effect on Monday, was praised by gay rights activists who had grown frustrated with San Francisco’s weak response to a virus that has so far only affected males who have sex with other males, although anybody may contract it.
Scott Wiener, State Senator, a Democrat who represents the city, stated, “San Francisco was at the vanguard of the public health responses to COVID-19 & HIV, and we’ll be at the forefront when it comes to monkeypox.” “We can’t & will not abandon the LGBTQ community.”
From around 800 cases, the city has 281 cases in California & 4,600 nationwide, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
People have had to wait hours in the queue for limited doses of the vaccine due to a national scarcity, and they have frequently turned away when the shots run out.
The San Francisco public health department has not provided basic information on testing or vaccine availability. According to members of the LGBTQ community who expressed their anger and frustration at a city hearing last week. They claimed that they were relying on social media for this information.
Rafael Mandelman, the department’s supervisor, reprimanded the agency, saying it was perplexing that it could not staff phone lines, especially after directing the people to call those numbers for information. At the same time, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation was able to do it.
Instead of making individuals wait in line as the public health department does, the organization has developed a waitlist for those who want the vaccine.
“It is a bad look for San Francisco,” he said.
In late June, after attending the San Francisco Pride weekend, Tom Temprano, 36, got notified that at least one other attendee had tested positive for monkeypox. The local health officials provided 4 numbers that he called in an effort to get vaccinated, but not a single person picked up. He then left voicemails.
“I waited & I waited & I waited,” said Temprano, “And there was just sort of — I think for myself & many people — just growing concern about our safety, given that we were further & further out from an exposure.”
Finally, on July 8, after spending two weeks keeping an eye on gay social media sites and maybe getting exposed to the virus at the pride celebration, he discovered via an Instagram post that a drop-in vaccine clinic was being held at San Francisco General Hospital.
Drop everything and go right away, the poster urged. Temprano sent half a dozen texts before running over. He stood in the queue with hundreds of other individuals that extended into the street and down the middle of a block.
Temprano, the political director of the San Francisco-based Equality California, received his first vaccination injection after a 3 1/2 hour wait. A friend of his had to wait in line four times before he could get the shot.
Temprano was supposed to receive his second dose the following week, but that appointment was postponed because of a vaccine shortage.
He is angry that it took the government so long to act, but he also pointed out that it was only until LGBTQ politicians in his neighborhood raised their voices that they finally did.
He stated, “I think the saddest part is that there are individuals having monkeypox now who attempted to acquire that vaccine over the previous month and a half and couldn’t get one, who are sick and are in agony and who are going to be out of work maybe for two to six weeks.”
In order to offer the city and counties more freedom to address the spreading illness, Wiener had encouraged regional and state officials to declare a health emergency. For instance, it would make it simpler for individuals to receive test results and enable a wider range of providers to administer immunizations.
Wiener, a gay man, also pointed out the similarities to the AIDS situation in San Francisco.
Once again, homosexual men are being assaulted, stigmatized, and held responsible for our illnesses, and it is something we cannot tolerate, he said.
Early in the 1980s, as the AIDS epidemic decimated gay communities in San Francisco and elsewhere, the U.S. government was sluggish to intervene. To campaign for AIDS-related action, organizations like ACT UP developed. This conflict still resonates today.
In response to worries the U.S has missed the opportunity to limit the virus, federal officials reassured the public on Thursday that the country’s outbreak of monkeypox can still be contained despite the vaccine supply issues.
According to the public health department, the monkeypox virus is transferred via prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which includes kissing, breathing, and sharing of beds and clothing. Health experts advise those who may be at risk to cover any exposed skin when in crowded places & to keep an eye out for signs like fever.
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declared a global emergency due to the monkeypox outbreak that has spread to over 70 nations.