San Francisco declares an emergency to help the city deal with the spread of monkeypox:

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a briefing outside City Hall December 1, 2021. Breed announced a legal state of emergency on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in the face of the growing number of cases of monkeypox.

Eric Risberg/AP

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Eric Risberg/AP

San Francisco declares an emergency to help the city deal

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks during a briefing outside City Hall December 1, 2021. Breed announced a legal state of emergency on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in the face of the growing number of cases of monkeypox.

Eric Risberg/AP

SAN FRANCISCO — The mayor of San Francisco announced a legal state of emergency Thursday over the growing number of monkeypox cases, allowing authorities to cut red tape and tackle a public health crisis reminiscent of the AIDS epidemic which began to devastate the city in the 1980s.

The declaration, which takes effect Monday, was welcomed by gay advocates who are increasingly frustrated with what they called San Francisco’s lackluster response to a virus that has so far mostly affected men who have sex with men, although anyone can be infected.

“San Francisco was at the forefront of public health responses to HIV and COVID-19, and we will be at the forefront when it comes to monkeypox,” said State Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents the city. “We cannot and will not leave the LGBTQ community dry.”

San Francisco health worker Dr Susan Philip said the city “is an epicenter for the country. Thirty percent of all cases in California are in San Francisco.”

The city has 261 cases, out of about 800 in California and 4,600 nationwide, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. A national vaccine shortage has left people queuing for hours for scarce doses, often only to be turned away when vaccines run out.

Members of the LGBTQ community expressed their anger and frustration at a city hearing last week, saying they relied on social media because San Francisco’s public health department failed to provide medical basic information about testing or vaccine availability.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman excoriated the department, saying it was unclear why he could not staff the phone lines, especially after telling people to call those phone numbers for information, while that the San Francisco AIDS Foundation was able to quickly staff an information hotline.

“It’s a bad look for San Francisco,” he said.

Resident Tom Temprano said it was unforgivable to learn at the reunion that his nomination for a second shot would not be honored. The city decided to prioritize first hits over second hits so more people could get some protection.

San Francisco closed its main monkeypox vaccination clinic earlier this week after it ran out of doses, saying it had only received 7,800 of the 35,000 doses requested. Officials said they expected 4,200 doses.

The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which includes sexual intercourse, kissing, short-distance breathing and sharing bedding and clothing, the public health department said. Health officials are asking people who may be at risk to cover exposed skin when in crowds and to watch out for symptoms, such as fever, blisters and rash.

The World Health Organization declared over the weekend that the outbreak of monkeypox in more than 70 countries was a global emergency.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has scheduled a press conference later Thursday.

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