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Biden names FEMA, CDC officials to head U.S. monkeypox response

Reuters WORLD
Published August 02,2022
Test tubes labeled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. (REUTERS Photo)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to coordinate the administration's response to monkeypox in the United States.

The appointments come as the United States aims to bolster vaccination efforts to slow the spread of a monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 5,800 Americans.

On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over monkeypox.

Biden named Robert Fenton as the White House coordinator to head the monkeypox response and Demetre Daskalakis as the deputy coordinator.

Fenton is the regional administrator at the FEMA who helped lead mass vaccination effort for COVID-19 in February 2021. Daskalakis serves as the director of CDC's HIV prevention division.

The duo will coordinate on "strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments," the White House said.

The first case of monkeypox in the United States was confirmed in Massachusetts on May 20, with the first case in California, in a person who had traveled abroad, confirmed five days later.

Monkeypox, which spreads through close physical contact, tends to cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions, though it is rarely fatal.