Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an emergency declaration Friday morning because of the monkeypox outbreak as cases in the county passed 200.
The declaration came the day after the Biden administration declared monkeypox a national public health emergency. Dallas County reports the largest number of cases in the state with 209 confirmed and 29 suspected cases as of Thursday, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.
“We’re going to defeat monkeypox through tracing people who have been in contact with a person with monkeypox, testing them, and getting the vaccine now to the most vulnerable populations,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a press conference.
The county health department recently expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine, called Jyneos, to include men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous partners in the last 14 days in addition to persons who had close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who’s tested positive for monkeypox, but there still aren’t enough appointments to meet demand.
Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang also stressed, though, that while the majority of cases in the recent outbreak have been among men who have sex with men, “monkeypox is in no way limited to any particular population.”
Jenkins said the emergency declaration will be used to try to get more doses of the vaccine faster, and unlike the emergency declarations made pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergency declaration for monkeypox doesn’t require any business closures.
“We’re trusting that businesses that are open every day, like clubs where people dance, will be responsible,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “You can still go dance, just make sure to have your shirt on and limit skin-to-skin contact with strangers.”
Monkeypox, a virus similar to smallpox, spreads primarily through skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated items like bedding or clothing and causes flu-like symptoms like fever, as well as a rash, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Symptoms typically start within three weeks of exposure and last two-to-four weeks, and the virus is rarely fatal.
Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang said there have been a few hospitalizations related to the recent monkeypox outbreak but didn’t provide a specific number.
For more information, visit Dallas County Health and Human Services’ website.