Sacramento Bee: California lawmakers push for monkeypox vaccine access + wildfire emergency near Yosemite

By Lindsey Holden


With monkeypox cases on the rise in Sacramento and around the world, California lawmakers are urging state and federal leaders to make more resources available to fight the disease.

The World Health Organization on Saturday declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” and Sacramento County added more cases on Monday to bring the local total to 29.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and 10 other lawmakers sent a July 20 letter asking for an emergency state budget appropriation to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood. The state Legislature is on summer recess until Aug. 1.

“Gay and bisexual men, transgender people, and others at risk desperately want the vaccine in order to protect themselves and those around them,” the letter said. “Yet, instead of quickly mobilizing into a mass vaccination campaign with this existing safe and effective vaccine, many of our counties lack the supply to vaccinate everyone seeking the vaccine.”

Anyone can catch monkeypox, but recent cases in the United States have particularly affected gay and bisexual men and transgender people.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal but causes painful symptoms, including a rash of blisters, a fever and chills. The disease is spread through close contact with infected people or the clothing or linens they’ve used, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wiener has been especially vocal about monkeypox vaccine shortages in San Francisco. On Monday, he tweeted city public health officials had again run out of vaccine doses.

“SF doesn’t know when new supply will arrive or how much,” Wiener said. “This is beyond unsustainable. It can’t go on this way.”

Rendon on July 20 called for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to declare a national public health emergency for monkeypox “so we can accelerate the process of providing testing and vaccination.”

“The federal response to this health crisis needs to be ramped up so we can control and stop the spread of this painful disease,” Rendon said in a statement.

California Sen. Alex Padilla and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley on July 22 also sent a letter to HHS and CDC leaders to push for more vaccines and resources.

“Monkeypox is spread through direct contact and can infect anyone,” Padilla and Merkley said. “Yet health care services are too often inaccessible or otherwise denied to members of at-risk communities, particularly the LGBTQ+ community. It is critical for vaccine access to be equitable, even in the face of high demand.”


Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday in Mariposa County, where a wildfire had burned more than 17,000 acres near Yosemite National Park as of Monday.

The Oak Fire has “destroyed homes, threatened critical infrastructure and forced the evacuation of more than three thousand residents,” Newsom’s proclamation said.

California secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide firefighting resources, according to the proclamation.

Yosemite remained open to visitors on Monday and is not being impacted by the fire, The Fresno Bee reported.

However, drifting smoke is expected to cause worsening air quality across Northern California.

The Placer Department of Health and Human Services and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District on Sunday released an air quality advisory in effect through Tuesday due to smoke from the Oak Fire.

The National Weather Service’s Bay Area office expected smoke to arrive in the area on Monday, and the Sacramento office also warned of poor air quality during the next few days.


Every single one of my Republican colleagues should be asked on the record to respond to the evidence uncovered by the January 6th committee. How can we go on with business as usual when a significant portion of the GOP caucus tacitly or explicitly condones an attempted coup?

– California Sen. Alex Padilla, via Twitter.

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