“We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Robert Fenton, the Biden administration’s national coordinator for the monkeypox response, said the declaration “will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments work quickly out to the impacted communities.”
“And it will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so we can effectively track and attack this outbreak,” Fenton said.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, criticized the Biden administration’s response to the outbreak, saying it should have been swifter.
“A communicable disease outbreak following so closely on the heels of COVID-19 should be met with a swift, decisive, and organized response. Instead, HHS is repeating the exact same mistakes they made during the pandemic: painfully slow to begin testing, wholly disorganized in distributing vaccines and treatments, and messaging that’s confusing and outdated,” Burr said.
Meanwhile, House Democrats praised the White House’s announcement.
“This critical step will allow the Biden Administration to build on the progress it has already made to expand the availability of vaccines, testing, and treatment nationwide,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the move was “welcome news.”
“As we learned from the COVID crisis, we must act swiftly and decisively to get ahead and stay ahead of this virus,” Pelosi said.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly all of the 6,600+ monkeypox cases in the U.S. are among men who have sex with men, The Hill reported. The outlet noted that roughly a third of the cases are in New York state.