The feds, city and state must quickly step up their response to the monkeypox outbreak in New York, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said Sunday.
Levine is demanding fixes to a dysfunctional system for getting vaccine appointments — and decried low vaccine supplies and a lack of widespread testing.
The city’s first reported case of monkeypox was in May.
“Everyone needs to take this seriously, even if you’re not in the directly impacted community right now,” Levine told the Daily News, noting the viral infection has mostly spread among men who have sex with men.
“Everyone should be outraged at the lack of resources that have been available so far to slow the spread of this.”
As of Friday, the city had 461 known cases of monkeypox, according to the city Health Department. Symptoms include blister-like rashes and fever. So far, there are no known U.S. deaths.
The latest set of available vaccine appointments was quickly filled Friday. Many New Yorkers have had to spend hours dealing with the booking website and clicking refresh to get a spot, Levine said.
After initially getting about 21,000 vaccine doses, the city is set to receive a large share of a batch of 32,785 doses the feds are sending New York next week, according to Gov. Hochul.
But Levine said the city’s real need is closer to 100,000 doses, basing his rough estimate on the number of people who qualify for HIV treatments.
He called on the city to set up a waiting list to improve access to vax appointments.
“People who are under-resourced or are working and don’t have the time are getting left behind,” he said.
“If you have a sign-up list, you could, for example, draw evenly among ZIP codes across the city so that people in low-income communities of color are ensured their fair share.”
The BP said he also wants the city to reopen four sexual health clinics that closed during the COVID pandemic, saying they could be put to use for monkeypox testing and diagnoses.
Levine, the former chair of the City Council’s Health Committee, compared the authorities’ handling of monkeypox so far to the early stages of the COVID pandemic.
“It is a repeat of almost every challenge we faced in the early days of COVID — lack of testing capacity, lack of vaccine, lack of treatment. And we knew this was coming.”