Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order Friday night declaring the spread of monkeypox a “disaster emergency” as 1,400 cases of the viral disease were recorded statewide.
The vast majority of the cases — 1,289 — have occurred in New York City, according to health officials who warn that many more cases are likely undiagnosed.
Hochul’s decree said that local agencies were “unable to respond adequately” as she ordered Albany to step in and help boost vaccination and preventative education efforts.
“After reviewing the latest data on the monkeypox outbreak in New York State, I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our aggressive ongoing efforts to confront this outbreak,” Hochul wrote in a press release.
“More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State, and we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal as we respond.”
New York had recorded 1,383 cases of the virus, which causes patients to experience a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes before developing a rash on their face and body.
Gay and bisexual men who “have multiple or anonymous sex partners are at a high risk of exposure,” city officials warned.
Orthopoxvirus/monkeypox is transmitted through bodily fluids or close bodily contact with the pus-filled lesions of a patient and is far less contagious than COVID-19. The strain of the virus currently spreading has a 1% fatality rate, and symptoms usually clear up in a matter of weeks.