SAN DIEGO – On Tuesday, San Diego County officials held a press conference declaring a public health emergency in response to monkeypox.
San Diego County Chair Nathan Fletcher, Vice Chair Nora Vargas, Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Ankita Kadakia, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric McDonald, and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria were all present for the meeting, which shared the latest on the county’s response to the virus.
The group said that while the number of cases has climbed in recent weeks, now at 46, their top priorities are still educating the public on monkeypox and preventing the spread of the virus. Before Tuesday, San Diego County had confirmed 27 cases, with the first case having been reported on June 15.
All cases, both reported and suspected, are men ranging in age from 27 years old to 58 years old, officials stated. The group also noted that the virus continues to impact members of the LGBTQ+ community predominantly, including in San Diego.
The meeting comes just one day after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a State of Emergency over the outbreak in the Golden State — a response Gloria said he is grateful for.
“I think that was an essential action, I’m grateful that he took it,” said the San Diego mayor during the conference.
The group also confirmed that they are working to secure more vaccine doses for the region, on top of the 3,987 that San Diego County has received thus far. Of the nearly 4,000 doses obtained, 2,454 have been distributed in San Diego and 1,500 are committed to distribution for public health purposes.
“The key is prevention, and this includes vaccination,” said Dr. Wooten.
The vaccine approach being taken by the county involves using the doses already available to get as many first shots “into arms,” and circling back with second doses only if they are sent to San Diego later on. The group said that even one dose of the vaccine can have an efficacy rate around 80%.
Mayor Gloria said that the county will “continue to apply pressure at the state and national level” to obtain more vaccine doses and resources to fight monkeypox, and that the eventual goal is to have vaccine doses for all San Diegans who want one.
“What we need now is more vaccines,” said Gloria.
In the meantime, the group of local officials is asking the public to focus on education and prevention, learning the signs and symptoms and staying informed on the latest developments in the fight against the outbreak.
“For us, health and safety of all San Diegans is our absolute priority, and while the county has taken early action, we’re asking for support and collaboration to help us prevent the spread,” said Vargas.
“Make sure you take the proper precautions for yourself and your loved ones,” Gloria said.
Dr. Kadakia offered three tips to the public regarding the virus: limit close skin-to-skin contact, know the signs and call your healthcare provider immediately if you think you may be sick.
As of Tuesday, California had recorded 827 cases of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nationally, more than 5,800 cases have been confirmed, meaning that California makes up 14% of the nation’s cases.
To sign up for San Diego County’s monkeypox hotline, text “COSD MONKEYPOX” to 468-311.
For more information on monkeypox in San Diego County, click HERE.