February 9, 2023

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will hold a press conference on monkey pox on Thursday morning.

A White House spokesperson said there were no updates at this time.

Biden officials have spent days debating whether or not to declare monkeypox a public health emergency. Health officials in the US said this week at the WHO that the risk to the general population is low. HHS has stated various public health emergencies recent years, including Covid-19 and the opioid crisis.

“I think it deserves to be one,” said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We have a lot of challenges across the country with their rate of increase in terms of new cases. It’s not an emergency that poses a… major threat to the general population. But it’s still moving… and has the potential to spread to other vulnerable communities.”

Talks about such a statement are coming as the virus continues to spread across the country. Nearly 3,600 cases have been reported in the US. New York City remains the epicenter of the outbreak, with most cases occurring in men who have sex with men.

The CDC said Tuesday it has made monkeypox a nationally notifiable condition, instructing public health authorities to use a certain definition for identifying cases and follow a specific rubric when submitting surveillance data to the agency. This move will allow the CDC to monitor the spread across the country more closely.

Still, concerns about the spread of the virus have left some within the administration concerned about future transmission, given the lack of vaccine doses available. The Biden administration has also faced mounting criticism over the pace of its response from public health experts, who fear the window to contain and eradicate the disease is closing.

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HHS is expected to announce the release of several hundred thousand doses this week after the Food and Drug Administration said it completed inspection of the vaccine at a manufacturing site in Denmark.

Sarah Owermohle contributed to this report.