On July 29, 2022, New York State declared a state of disaster emergency in response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak. The Executive Order enables the state to respond more swiftly to the outbreak and allows health care professionals to take additional steps that will help get more New Yorkers vaccinated. In addition, on Saturday, July 30, 2022, New York City declared a public health emergency due to the spread of the monkeypox virus. The declaration will allow New York City officials to issue emergency orders under the city health code and amend code provisions to implement measures to help slow the spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has indicated that the risk of contracting monkeypox in the U.S. is “believed to be low,” but anyone who comes into close contact with an individual carrying the disease is at risk of infection. According to the CDC, monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids is another way monkeypox spreads. It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal. Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, monkeypox can spread during intimate physical contact between people.
Anyone can get monkeypox if they have close personal contact with someone who has symptoms of monkeypox. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
Health officials recommend that individuals avoid infected surfaces (unwashed materials and objects) that have been exposed to direct and intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. In addition, masks are encouraged to help prevent the spread through respiratory droplets in situations with face-to-face contact. Individuals that have become exposed to or infected with monkeypox should quarantine themselves until symptoms resolve.
While New Yorkers should not be alarmed, everyone should stay informed about monkeypox. This means understanding the symptoms, how it spreads, and what to do if you are exposed. Employers in New York City (where the outbreak is especially prevalent) may want to implement a workplace policy addressing the concerns relating to the monkeypox virus. If you are interested in having ALG draft a policy for your workplace please contact a member of the ALG team.
We will continue to monitor developments as they become available. Should you have any questions, please contact ALG.