King County Executive Dow Constantine on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022 issued a proclamation declaring monkeypox a public health emergency in King County.

As of Aug. 18, 2022, there are 272 cases of confirmed monkeypox in King County and over 14,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States. This is following the U.S. monkeypox emergency declaration on Aug. 4, 2022.

The King County proclamation will be effective immediately.

This local emergency proclamation allows Public Health – Seattle & King County to be more flexible with procurement, hiring and contracting protocols in order to respond effectively.

“We are fortunate to have one of the best public health organizations in the nation right here in King County, and today’s action ensures they will have all the tools needed to take on the challenge of monkeypox,” Constantine said. “The health of our community is paramount, and responding quickly and nimbly to monkeypox will help keep more of us safe.”

While vaccine is allocated at the federal level, and a proclamation does not bring in more vaccine to our region in the near term, the emergency proclamation will help Public Health work with providers and community partners to help deliver vaccine when larger quantities become available.

“Public health and community partners alongside our health care providers have been working tirelessly to respond to the current MPV outbreak under many constraints, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Dennis Worsham, Interim Director for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “It’s an important time for public health to have the flexibility it needs to be able to respond and reach the communities most impacted, including ensuring equitable access to vaccine. Removing any procedural barriers will help us be as effective as possible as we expect a continued busy fall for Public Health, healthcare providers and community partners, including the possible role-out of new COVID-19 boosters, flu shots, and preventing more cases of MPV in our community.”

Public Health – Seattle & King County has been responding to the monkeypox outbreak since May 23, 2022, when the first case was identified. This includes conducting case investigations and disease surveillance, analyzing and reporting outbreak epidemiology, and facilitating patient screening and testing for suspected monkeypox cases. The response team has been working to distribute antivirals and vaccine to healthcare systems and directly providing clinical services through Public Health’s Sexual Health Clinic at Harborview and through community vaccination events.

The Department continues to be in on-going communication with federal and state health agencies in order to share the latest information and guidance with healthcare providers and the public. Public Health is also working with local community- based organizations to reach the highest risk populations with health information.

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