- Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday stated that he would not declare a state of emergency over the ongoing monkeypox outbreak
- Other highly-populated states like New York and California have taken such action, granting the states executive emergency power
- Florida has 500 cases at the start of August, with the highest concentration found in South Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday stated he will not declare a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak as 500 cases have now been identified within the state.
DeSantis during a press conference on Wednesday stated that he sought to avoid stoking fear in Floridians while the case count for monkeypox remains relatively low. Referring to such states as New York and California, which did declare a state of emergency over the outbreak, the governor claimed that such measures would be used to “abuse emergency powers to restrict freedoms.”
DeSantis stated that anything dealt with from a public health perspective would be dealt with “facts, not fear,” but elected not to expand upon how the Department of Health is working to combat the outbreak.
“Any of the politicians trying to scare you about this, do not listen to their nonsense,” he said. “We’re not going to go back to Fauci in the ’80s trying to tell families they are going to catch AIDS by watching TV together. Anything we deal with from a public health perspective, we are not doing fear. We are going to do facts.
The state in recent weeks requested additional vaccines from the federal government. The Sun Sentinel reports that per CDC data Florida has asked for and received 36,800 doses through July 27, though the state’s top Democrats are seeking further action.
Commissioner of Agriculture and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried earlier this week held a press conference addressing the ongoing monkeypox outbreak across South Florida and the state at large. In holding the event, Fried attacked DeSantis, stating on Twitter that she is speaking on the matter “because DeSantis won’t.”
With a stated goal of raising local awareness of monkeypox, Fried spoke alongside Robert Boo and Dr. Zachary Henry, offering updates on the disease spread across South Florida. Currently, Florida accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. cases and has seen a rapid increase in cases over the last month, with the highest concentrations found in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The World Health Organization last week deemed the outbreak to be a global health emergency. While most cases have been identified in Europe, Florida is experiencing rapid transmission, causing state leaders and medical experts to raise concerns.
“It needs to be a statewide approach. [The disease] doesn’t know any borders,” said Boo. “Just because it’s here in Broward County doesn’t mean that it’s going to stop at Miami-Dade or Palm Beach Counties. With South Florida being such a tourist destination, this is quickly growing across the state. Unless we contain it, monkeypox will continue to spread.”
Fried during the event stated that last week she wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell requesting additional vaccines and testing resources.
“Given the troubling spread of cases in South Florida specifically, I urge you to expedite the Florida Department Of Health’s recent request for additional vaccines under your case-burden allocation strategy,” wrote Fried. “Testing, while greatly improved due to efforts by HHS, is still not widely accessible to many Floridians and continues to limit the state’s ability to identify outbreaks and protect vulnerable populations, making vaccines all the more important. My department stands ready to provide assistance during this global health emergency, including amplifying federal awareness efforts to the people of Florida.”