San Francisco Quietly Ends Emergency Order Around Monkeypox

This time last week, San Francisco ended the City’s emergency order enacted in response to the monkeypox public health emergency.

MPX — a.k.a. “Monkeypox” — is, more or less, locally extinct. Just a single new case of the zoonotic disease was recorded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) over the past two weeks. This single-digit figure is a far, very welcomed cry from the 20 probable and confirmed MPX infections recorded at the height of the crisis back in July.

By no means a “gay disease,” members of the LGBTQAI+ community were disproportionately affected by MPX; about 93% of all infections were contracted by men who practiced sexual acts with other men. But leave it to us queers to wield public health responsibly so well, lining up in droves and waiting for hours to get a shot of the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine for MPX when it became publicly available in August. (I was among the said cohort of gay men waiting in line at the drop-in MPX vaccine clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, simultaneously hoping to find their respective husbands or thirds or new FWBs, post inoculation.)

Three months after the declaration was announced, the City’s emergency order for MPX was ended on October 27th, due to the success of the community’s response to address the crisis and the number of available public health resources that met at the moment.

“The public health emergency declaration on MPX, the first of its kind in the nation, served its purpose to reflect the immediate urgency of the MPX threat to the health of those most affected in the gay, bisexual and trans communities,” reads a news release from SFDPH, citing that over 27,000 San Franciscans have now been vaccinated against the virus. “It also gave public health officials tools, such as the collection of critical data, needed to respond effectively. The overwhelming community support and advocacy for critical resources such as vaccines from the federal government, coupled with early and strong action, drove San Francisco’s successful public health response and enabled the city to reach this milestone.”

The release went on to say San Franciscans should “thank themselves,” who have been proactive about their health and have sought out vaccines, as well as taking actions to be informed and protect themselves and others; SFDPH noted that its resources and community partners were directed heavily “toward people most impacted by MPX in the gay, bisexual, and trans communities, and with a goal of lowering health disparities and barriers to care.”

It’s a huge milestone for the city… and one that went under the radar. And though MPX is still circulating in San Francisco, albeit in a much less impactful way, the department notes that “there’s more work to do ” to eradicate MPX from SF. 

Kudos to you, SF. We managed to thwart the potential start of yet another pandemic. Let’s hope we, as a collective, have the same fortitude whenever the next virus inevitably enters the fray.

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