Monkeypox Declared a Public Health Emergency

Leah Shepherd By Leah Shepherd August 4, 2022
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Monkeypox rash on someone's hand

To address the spread of monkeypox, the U.S. declared a public health state of emergency. California, Illinois and New York had already done the same. The disease can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, but not by sharing office space and talking with co-workers. We've rounded up SHRM Online resources and news articles from other trusted outlets.

Growing Number of Cases

California, Illinois and New York—home to the nation's three largest cities—initially reported more than 45 percent of all confirmed monkeypox infections in the United States. But now the country has reported more than 7,000 cases of monkeypox across 48 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

(U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

National Public Health Emergency

The Biden administration on Aug. 4 declared monkeypox a public health emergency nationwide, with cases on the rise across the U.S. It is just the fifth such national emergency since 2001. The nation remains in a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.

(CNN) and (The New York Times)

SHRM Resource Hub Page
COVID-19 and Communicable Diseases

California Takes Action

California's governor declared a state of emergency to speed efforts to combat the monkeypox outbreak. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the declaration will help California coordinate a governmentwide response, seek more vaccines, and lead outreach and education efforts on where people can get treatment and vaccination.

(Associated Press)

Cities Step Up

New York City and San Francisco have declared local public health emergencies. Vaccinations to help control the spread of the disease have been in short supply.

(Politico)

How It Spreads

Monkeypox is spread through close contact with someone who has symptoms or by touching items that touched the infectious rash or body fluids, such as unwashed bedding and towels, or sharing cups and plates that came in contact with the infectious rash or body fluids. It is not transmitted via casual, brief conversations or walking by someone.

(SHRM Online)

WHO Calls Monkeypox Emergency

On July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a "public health emergency of international concern." Employers should review information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the WHO, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of State. Employers should remind employees about precautions to prevent monkeypox infections, such as washing your hands often, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, routinely cleaning frequently touched surfaces, avoiding skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash and staying at home when you are sick.

(K&L Gates law firm)

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