Gov. JB Pritzker declares monkeypox a public health emergency in Illinois

ByLeah Hope and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Gov. Pritzker declares monkeypox a public health emergency
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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency Monday to help coordinate a statewide response.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency Monday to help coordinate a statewide response.

Declaring the state a "disaster area" allows the Illinois Dept. of Public Health to better coordinate with other state agencies and the federal government on vaccine distribution and disease prevention.

Illinois now has 520 confirmed cases of monkeypox, currently the third highest number in the United States, according to governor's office.

MONKEYPOX | Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines

As of Friday, there are 330 monkeypox cases in Chicago, where the focus continues to be getting vaccines to those who are at higher risk, despite low supplies.

TPAN in Edgewater had 100 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and they were accounted for quickly Monday. People lined up even before the clinic opened.

"I don't want to put anybody I love at risk," Carlos Alfaro said. "If I get the virus, I can bring it home, so that's a major concern for me."

"I think the LGBT community is more vocal about diseases but that said," Luis Castello said, "I think all of us need to learn from our community. And everyone straight, however you identify, you have to be cautious."

Infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Citronberg from Advocate Aurora Health answers monkeypox questions.

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 offering the vaccine were on the North Side," Mooney said, "and then for figuring out -- do you have to book an appointment, is it walk in, first come/first serve?"

In Hyde Park, the Center for HIV Elimination has been doing outreach and continues to do so with its mobile unit to try and share information with those who may not be able to easily access monkeypox vaccination clinics, especially those with compromised immune systems.

"Because their immune system may not be the healthiest in terms of responding to that," said Noel Green, manager of outreach at Center for HIV Elimination. "Making sure they are aware before, they are prepared and vaccinated before they are introduced is critical to their survival."

The center is planning more outreach and vaccination events depending on the availability of vaccine.

Full statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady

"This emergency declaration brings a necessary, increased focus to the Monkeypox (MPV) outbreak we're seeing here in Chicago, across our state, and around 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 increased risk and will continue to do so. Ultimately, however, we need more support from the federal level to fully address the threat MPV presents to our city. It is our hope that this declaration joins a chorus of others across the nation and encourages the rapid increase and distribution of
vaccines. This declaration will allow the state to use emergency procurement powers and to directly involve other state agencies, like Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), in the response statewide. Chicago does not need a separate emergency declaration as we are covered by the state one, and in addition, we already have a local emergency procurement process; a strong local distribution network; and a diverse group of clinical and community partners working to raise awareness and vaccinate Chicagoans at increased risk."