MPX (monkeypox) cases are still being recorded in the city of San Francisco, but the rate is down to less than one per day — and the Department of Public Health seems pleased.
SF DPH announced Thursday that it will officially be lifting the local public health emergency declaration for MPX as of October 31.
"Overwhelming community support & advocacy for critical resources like vaccines, coupled with early and strong action, drove San Francisco's successful public health response," the department tweeted. "The declaration was the first of its kind in the nation & served its purpose to reflect the immediate urgency of the MPX threat to the health of those most affected, particularly in the LBGTQ+ community. It also gave officials the tools needed to respond effectively."
1. SFDPH will be ending the MPX local health emergency on October 31. Thanks to the work of community members, community & government partners & dedicated staff, MPX cases have slowed to less than one per day. More than 27k San Franciscans are vaccinated. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/dvW28sVBLV— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) October 20, 2022
The department touts that around 27,000 San Franciscans have now been vaccinated against MPX, but it still encouraging people to get vaccinated if they haven't, or to get their second shots if they haven't received those.
"The end of the local health emergency does not mean that MPX has gone away," the department says.
SFist noted cases were on the decline just as Folsom Street Fair weekend arrived in late September — and at the time the city was averaging around 10 new cases per week. DPH managed to vaccinate 1,000 people at the fair itself with pop-up clinics at the fair gates, and they administered hundreds more shots the following weekend at Castro Street Fair.
There was significant hand-wringing in the press and calls to action by activists in the LGBTQ community throughout the summer over the initial limited availability of the Jynneos vaccine, and long lines for shots were the norm for a few weeks. But by late August those supply issues appeared to be solved. As of August 31, SF DPH was encouraging everyone who'd received first doses to come in for their second.
And the MPX picture is similar across the country, with cases slowing to a trickle. As of late September, the White House's monkeypox response team was sounding hopeful that the disease could be mostly eliminated in the U.S.
"Our goal is to eradicate; that’s what we’re working toward," said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy coordinator of the response team, per the New York Times. "The prediction is, we’re going to get very close."
President Biden’s health secretary and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra backed that up saying, "The president said from the very beginning, ‘Get on top of this, and then stay ahead of it.’”
Other experts cautioned that talk of "eradication" of the virus is premature — and if there is always an "animal reservoir," as there is with MPX, it will likely never be fully eradicated, just mostly rare in humans.
Also, it is likely that certain minority populations who have not been fully made aware of the virus risks and vaccination availability could be vulnerable to outbreaks down the road.
Top image: Digitally-colorized electron microscopic (EM) image depicting a monkeypox virion (virus particle), obtained from a clinical sample associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak, published June 6, 2022. The image depicts a thin section image from a human skin sample. On the left are mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right are the crescents and spherical particles of immature virions. Courtesy CDC/Goldsmith at al. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)