Governor JB Pritzker on Monday declared the monkeypox virus a public health emergency and declared Illinois a “disaster area” regarding the disease.
The declaration, which applies to the entire state, will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to utilize resources for coordinating logistics across state agencies, quickly and efficiently aid in the distribution of vaccines and in the prevention and treatment of the disease, according to the governor’s office.
The proclamation will also assist state agencies in coordinating the response with the federal government.
“MPV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent the spread,” Pritzker said.
“That’s why I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure smooth coordination between state agencies and all levels of government, thereby increasing our ability to prevent and treat the disease quickly. We have seen this virus disproportionately impact the LGBTQ+ community in its initial spread. Here in Illinois we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care,” Pritzker said.
Declaring a state of disaster will allow IDPH to expand vaccine and testing capacities with the help of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the governor’s office said.
The proclamation will also aid in facilitating the logistics and transportation of vaccines across the state to reach the “most impacted communities” efficiently.
The proclomation, which takes effect immediately and is in place for 30 days, also authorizes emergency procurements to facilitate the state’s response.
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on July 23.
Illinois currently has reported 520 cases of confirmed or presumptive monkeypox virus, the third most in the country.
The state has received more than 7,000 doses of vaccine from the federal government, with 13,000 additional doses expected in the near future.
Pritzker called on the Department of Health and Human Services to increase Illinois’ vaccine allotment last month in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“A comprehensive and swift response is key when containing a disease outbreak,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.
“These measures will allow the state to deploy all our resources in fighting this disease and will open efficient lines of communication and cooperation across state lines, an essential step in tracking monkeypox and improving tools and processes to prevent and address it,” Vohra said.