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Biden names two federal officials as monkeypox coordinators

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Richie Malouf

(The Center Square) – U.S. President Joe Biden has appointed two federal officials as the administration's monkeypox coordinators, the White House said Tuesday.

Biden named Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Robert Fenton as the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis as the Deputy Coordinator. 

"We look forward to partnering with Bob Fenton and Demetre Dasklalakis as we work to end the monkeypox outbreak in America," said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. "Bob's experience in federal and regional response coordination, and Demetre's vast knowledge of our public health systems' strengths and limits will be instrumental as we work to stay ahead of the virus and advance a whole-of-government response."

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Joe Biden

This announcement comes after California, New York, and Illinois have declared state emergencies amid rising monkeypox cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 5,811 cases throughout the United States, and the White House plans to accelerate its response to the outbreak and distribute the necessary medical supplies to those who need them. 

"The Administration has made over 1.1 million doses of vaccine available to states and cities across the country to control the spread of the virus, has expanded testing capacity from 6,000 tests per week to over 80,000 tests per week, and has communicated regularly with providers and local health departments encouraging them to utilize tests more often," the White House said. "The Administration also recently launched its monkeypox research agenda, aiming to galvanize the international community to identify and address gaps in information on the virus to accelerate and strengthen the global response." 

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The administration estimates that its response may require up to $7 billion for tests, vaccines, and treatment options, according to a memo retrieved by The Washington Post. 

Unlike the COVID-19 virus, the Monkeypox virus spreads most commonly through close skin-to-skin contact, not through breathing in airborne particles.

The White House said it would coordinate efforts to ramp up its response to rising case numbers and help those most in need. 

"Over the coming weeks, under the leadership of Fenton and Daskalakis, the Administration will advance and accelerate the United States' monkeypox response to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect individuals most at risk of contracting the virus, and care for those who have been afflicted with it," the White House said.