“Public health is at stake and we must continue to protect Washingtonians and do what we can to help control the spread of monkeypox,” Inslee said in a news release. “Thank you to our Department of Health for taking these actions.”
The orders direct DOH to do things such as “conduct comprehensive public outreach and education within appropriate communities and communities disproportionately impacted by the virus,” as well as find a way to equitably distribute treatments and vaccines and to support local health jurisdictions.
Additionally, the governor has directed the agency to collect demographic data on case counts while monitoring them, and to “maintain adequate testing capacity” at DOH’s public health lab.
There are currently 234 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Washington state, and 10,768 cases confirmed nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington had its first confirmed case of the virus on May 27, 10 days after the first confirmed case in the U.S.
Vaccines are available, but are currently limited.
The CDC notes that symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle and back aches, headaches, and respiratory symptoms. Rashes, which can be painful and cause scarring, can occur before or after the presentation of other symptoms. The virus is rarely fatal, however.
“Although there are currently no known deaths due to this virus in Washington, this outbreak is an evolving serious public health concern,” Inslee said in the directive.
“It is critical that the Department continues to utilize every tool at its disposal to prevent and control the spread of this virus.”