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The virus was just declared a “global health emergency” by WHO.
Over the past few months, public health officials have been keeping an eye on monkeypox as outbreaks in Europe began to spread to the U.S. and across the world. While the latest viral threat isn’t a new disease like COVID-19, the offshoot of the smallpox virus causes serious illness and can be potentially deadly in some patients. The emerging crisis reached a new level on July 23 when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a public health emergency. But now, data shows domestic cases are rising, with certain states experiencing worse monkeypox outbreaks than others.
According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, the U.S. had tallied 3,487 monkeypox cases as of July 26, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The updated domestic count placed the United States ahead of Spain and the U.K. for the highest outbreaks in non-endemic countries. As of July 27, only four states—Alaska, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming—have yet to report an infection from the virus. In response, experts in some places began to warn that time was running out to keep the virus in check.
“We are at a very critical juncture in the outbreak,” Jay Varma, MD, a physician and epidemiologist who directs Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response in New York City, told The Wall Street Journal. He added that the actual case count is likely much higher than reported numbers due to a lack of testing in the earliest days of the outbreak, but remained confident that a combination of increased awareness and education—along with vaccination and treatment—could help keep monkeypox from becoming widespread.
Which areas are seeing the most reported cases right now? Read on to see which states have the worst monkeypox outbreaks per capita based on CDC data as of July 25, according to The Hill.
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While it’s the most populous state, California still has a high rate of monkeypox infections per capita. It was also the site of one of the first two reported cases of the virus in children in the U.S.
As the threat from monkeypox becomes more apparent, elected officials in Massachusetts have called on the federal government to respond more urgently to the virus. Nine members of the state’s 11-person congressional delegation co-wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra on July 25, asking for “aggressive action” in the form of increased testing, vaccination access, and education on the disease.
“We saw what happened when the last administration was slow to respond to COVID-19. The consequences were devastating. We simply cannot get caught flat-footed again,” Massachusetts Congressional representative Ayanna Pressley said in a statement.
Two months after reporting its first case of monkeypox, Florida has seen cases rise to one of the highest rates per capita in the U.S. So far, the five counties with the most reported cases as of July 25 are Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas, and Palm Beach County, The Palm Beach Post reports.
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According to CDC data, Maryland is seeing just over one case per 100,000 residents. On July 26, state health officials reported that they were working to distribute severely limited supplies of the vaccine to the most at-risk areas.
Cases of monkeypox in Illinois have risen to nearly two per capita just as the state expects to host several large outdoor musical festivals, including Chicago’s Lollapalooza, WBEZ reports. But state health officials said they would be stepping up efforts to keep the public informed about the threat of the virus.
“We’ll provide some opportunities to vaccinate during that time in sort of clinical spaces or venues adjacent to the facilities,” Massimo Pacilli, a deputy commissioner at the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a webinar on July 26.
According to CDC data, Georgia had the second highest monkeypox infection rate among its residents in the U.S. as of July 25. State health officials began scheduling appointments for a vaccine rollout earlier this week.
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So far, New York has reported more monkeypox infections than any other state, with New York City remaining a particular outbreak hotspot for the virus. On July 25, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that new PCR testing would be used going forward to help better detect cases and hopefully slow its spread, The Guardian reports.
“The real challenge with testing is that it involves swabbing lesions, which must be present for the test to assess whether the virus is also present,” Mary Bassett, MD, New York state health commissioner, said in a statement. “Without lesions, testing is not currently possible. And we will continue working to make sure providers know when and how to test for monkeypox.”
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read