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Gov. Kathy Hochul yesterday declared a state disaster emergency in response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak in New York.

“More than one in four monkeypox cases in this country are in New York State, and we need to utilize every tool in our arsenal as we respond,” Hochul said in a statement released last night.

As of yesterday, New York had recorded a total of 1,383 confirmed orthopoxvirus/monkeypox cases, with 1,289 of those cases in New York City. Suffolk County has had the most cases outside of NYC, with 19 confirmed cases.

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not usually cause serious illness. However, it is often be painful and can result in hospitalization or death, according to the state health department.

Monkeypox spreads through close, physical contact between people. Anyone can get monkeypox. However, based on the current outbreak, certain populations are being affected by monkeypox more than others, including men who have sex with men, according to the state health department.

Based on previous outbreaks of monkeypox around the world, some groups may also be at heightened risk for severe outcomes if they contract monkeypox, health officials say. This includes people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, young children under 8 years of age, and pregnant people.

The governor’s executive order enables the state to respond more swiftly to the outbreak and allows health care professionals to take additional steps that will help get more New Yorkers vaccinated, the governor’s office said in a press release.

The executive order specifically extends the pool of eligible individuals who can administer monkeypox vaccines, including EMS personnel, pharmacists and midwives; allows physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non patient specific standing orders for vaccines; and requires providers to send vaccine data to the New York State Department of Health.

Hochul also announced that the federal government had secured an additional 110,000 vaccine doses, resulting in a total of 170,000 doses to New Yorkers to date.

On Thursday, State Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett declared monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health” in New York State. The declaration means that local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional state reimbursement, Bassett said.

Earlier this month, NYSDOH launched a new SMS-text notification effort to deliver the latest monkeypox information directly to New Yorkers. New Yorkers can sign up for text messages — which will include alerts about cases, symptoms, spread, and resources for testing and vaccination — by texting “MONKEYPOX” to 81336 or “MONKEYPOXESP” for texts in Spanish. By providing a zip code, New Yorkers can also opt-in for location-based messages.

For more information about monkeypox, including case counts by county, treatment, and care, visit the State Department of Health website.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.