Covid fatigue has made it harder to manage the pandemic. Has it also impacted the monkeypox outbreak?

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During the Covid pandemic, almost one in five healthcare professionals quit their job, and the resulting healthcare worker shortage still hasn’t cleared up. Many American citizens have become tired of Covid too, leading to fewer precautions taken as the virus continues to rack up tens of thousands of infections per day. Now, experts are saying that this is playing a role in the national outbreak of monkeypox. 

Tired and overworked public health agencies, along with healthcare worker shortages and a disgruntled public, have made containing the monkeypox outbreak difficult. ‘

“Unfortunately, delayed actions mean monkeypox has spread within the gay community and among other men who have sex with men,” said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “This outbreak has grown to be a public health crisis in America. We are still in a very chaotic situation at the state and local level with an organized response.”

The Biden administration has already released 1.1 million monkeypox vaccines, and several states have declared a state of emergency over the outbreak. The administration named Robert Fenton to coordinate the national monkeypox response. Fenton helped work on FEMA’s Covid vaccination effort

Still, there is concern that Covid fatigue has made it harder for public health officials to do their jobs effectively. “The system is tired, it’s overworked, it’s underpaid, it’s understaffed,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “All the same issues that plagued us during the pandemic are still with us and haven’t gone away. What’s added to it, with monkeypox and beyond, is that we also have a workforce that has documented mental health trauma after the pandemic.”

There currently is no home test for monkeypox, and testing at medical facilities is limited. About 10 percent of monkeypox cases require hospitalization, and symptoms can include painful lesions along with flu-like symptoms. 

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.

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