Robert Fenton Jr., new monkeypox coordinator
Robert Fenton Jr., new monkeypox coordinatorRobert Fenton Jr. Source: FEMA

New U.S. Monkeypox Coordinator Named

News comes as California and Illinois declare public health emergencies

TUESDAY, Aug. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- The White House announced Tuesday that Robert Fenton Jr., a regional administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has been named the country's new monkeypox coordinator.

The news came as two more states joined New York, New York City, and San Francisco in declaring monkeypox a public health emergency. On Monday, both California and Illinois made the declaration as cases surge across the country and public health officials scramble for doses of the only vaccine approved to treat monkeypox, The Washington Post reported.

"One of the nation's most experienced and effective emergency management leaders, Robert Fenton has twice served as Acting Administrator of FEMA and led multiple challenging prevention, response, and recovery operations throughout his long and distinguished career, including for natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and complex humanitarian operations," the White House said in a statement announcing the appointment.

During the pandemic, Fenton helped coordinate efforts to set up COVID-19 vaccination sites across the country, which led to his being named a finalist this year for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals awarded by the Partnership for Public Service.

Joining Fenton in coordinating the U.S. response to the monkeypox outbreak that has already sickened more than 5,800 Americans will be Demetre Daskalakis, M.D., director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A national expert on health issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ communities, he previously managed responses to infectious diseases for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and served as incident commander for the city's COVID-19 response.

Since the first U.S. cases of monkeypox were reported in May, the Biden administration said it has made more than 1 million doses of vaccine available to states and cities across the country, has expanded testing capacity from 6,000 tests per week to more than 80,000 tests per week, and has urged providers and local health departments to use monkeypox tests more often.

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