White House names monkeypox response coordinator as virus spreads

2022-08-02 01:49:26

The White House on Tuesday named a Federal Emergency Management Agency official as coordinator for the monkeypox response, as the virus spreads in the United States.

The naming of a national coordinator for the monkeypox response, Robert Fenton, comes as the Biden administration looks to step up its response to the virus.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official, Demetre Daskalakis, will serve as the deputy coordinator. Fenton brings operational experience and Daskalakis public health expertise.

“We look forward to partnering with Bob Fenton and Demetre Dasklakis as we work to end the monkeypox outbreak in America,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “Bob’s experience in federal and regional response coordination, and Demetre’s vast knowledge of our public health systems’ strengths and limits will be instrumental as we work to stay ahead of the virus and advance a whole-of-government response.”

The move to better coordinate response efforts comes as the administration has faced some criticism for not moving fast enough in its response to monkeypox, with the first US case confirmed in May.

“Our country’s response to monkeypox has been plagued by the sames shortcomings we had with Covid-19,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in The New York Times this week, pointing for example to a slow rollout of testing.

California, Illinois and New York have in recent days declared emergencies over monkeypox.

Fenton previously worked on setting up mass vaccination sites in the COVID-19 response.

The White House said Daskalakis is “widely known as a national expert on health issues affecting the LGBGQIA+ communities,” which has been hit particularly hard by the monkeypox outbreak.

There are now over 5,800 monkeypox cases reported in the US, according to the CDC.

Importantly, the virus does not spread as easily as COVID-19, instead coming during close contact, including during sex.

The virus causes a Distinctive rash, along with other possible symptoms like fever and chills.

“Over the coming weeks, under the leadership of Fenton and Daskalakis, the administration will advance and accelerate the United States’ monkeypox response to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect individuals most at risk of contracting the virus, and care for those who have has been afflicted with it,” the White House said.

–Updated at 7:54 am

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