February 9, 2023

Nearly 3,600 cases have been reported in the US, According to the CDC, including 439 on Monday, the highest one-day total to date. But state health departments, which share information on positive cases, suspected cases and the number of people treated, are under no obligation to provide the federal government with standardized data, leaving the CDC with a patchwork of the virus’s spread.

“Making the condition nationally notifiable positions public health to continue to monitor and respond to monkeypox after the current outbreak has subsided,” CDC spokesman Kristen Nordlund said Wednesday.

Declaring monkeypox a nationally notifiable condition, however, offers health officials only a glimpse. As a result, they would not know, for example, how many people have been vaccinated.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN this week that the agency cannot require states to provide data.

“We need the states… to provide us with data,” Becerra said. “Usually we can’t require states to do this. As for Covid, until we declared a public health emergency and started to establish these emergency authorities, we couldn’t require states to provide us with this data.”

The government is still debating whether monkeypox should be declared a public health emergency and ways to improve the response if so. But the government doesn’t need to declare monkeypox a public health emergency to make it a nationally notifiable condition, the senior government official said.

In another sign of the government’s heightened response, the FDA announced on Wednesday it had freed up an additional facility in Denmark to complete production of monkeypox vaccines, allowing for more doses to be divided and administered.

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Last week, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency. WHO officials on Tuesday warned of increasing transmission and urge people in communities where the number of cases is high to take precautions by avoiding sexual intercourse.