Amid growing calls from health officials across the country, the Biden administration will declare the current monkeypox outbreak to be a public health emergency in the U.S. on Thursday afternoon, according to a senior White House official.
The declaration, which will be made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, comes a little less than two weeks after the World Health Organization designated the outbreak an emergency of international concern.
By issuing a declaration, HHS will be able to take a series of actions including accessing funds set aside for such an emergency as well as appointing personnel to positions directly responding to the emergency. It also gives Health Secretary Xavier Becerra significant flexibility to bend federal rules or waive requirements on government health programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
A public health emergency declaration lasts for 90 days, but it may be extended by Becerra. There have been four national public health emergencies declared in the last 15 years.
Last week, New York became the first state to declare monkeypox a “disaster emergency,” with officials calling New York City the “epicenter of the outbreak.” Illinois and California soon followed, with both states reporting hundreds of confirmed cases.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.