CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Monday to help coordinate a statewide response.
Declaring the state a “disaster zone” will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to better work with other state agencies and the federal government on vaccine distribution and disease prevention.
Illinois currently has the third highest number of cases in the United States, according to the governor’s office.
MONKEYPOX | Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines
As of Friday, there are 330 cases of monkeypox in Chicago, where the focus remains on getting vaccines for those at higher risk despite low supplies.
TPAN in Edgewater had 100 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and those were processed quickly on Monday. People were already queuing up before the clinic opened.
“I don’t want to endanger anyone I love,” said Carlos Alfaro. “If I get the virus, I can take it home, so that’s a big concern for me.”
“I think the LGBT community is more outspoken about disease, but having said that,” said Luis Castello, “I think we all need to learn from our community. And anyone who is straight, however you identify, you should be carefull.”
Chris Mooney lives on Chicago’s South Side, but came to the North Side location after doing his own research to find a vaccine.
“Really a lot of the clinics and places that offer the vaccine were on the north side,” Mooney said, “and then you have to make an appointment to find out, is it walk in, first come/first served?”
In Hyde Park, the Center for HIV Elimination has done and continues to do outreach with its mobile unit to try to share information with those who may not have easy access to monkeypox vaccination clinics, especially those with compromised immune systems.
“Because their immune systems may not be the healthiest to respond to that,” said Noel Green, outreach manager at Center for HIV Elimination. “Ensuring they are informed before they are primed and vaccinated before introduction is critical to their survival.”
The center is planning more outreach and vaccination events, depending on vaccine availability.
Full statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady
“This emergency statement brings a necessary, heightened focus to the Monkeypox (MPV) outbreak that we are seeing here in Chicago, in our state, and across the country. Since the beginning of this outbreak, the Chicago Department of Public Health has been working diligently with clinical and community partners to raise awareness and vaccinate residents at risk and will continue to do so. Ultimately, however, we need more support from the federal level to fully address the threat MPV poses to our city. It is our hope that this statement joins a chorus of others across the country and encourages the rapid increase and spread ofvaccines. This statement allows the state to use emergency powers and directly involve other government agencies, such as Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), in statewide response. Chicago does not need a separate emergency declaration because we are covered by the state declaration, and besides, we already have a local emergency purchasing process in place; a strong local distribution network; and a diverse group of clinical and community partners working to raise awareness and vaccinate at-risk Chicagoans.”
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