Breanna Reeves

Following state-wide and national public health emergency declarations by Governor Gavin Newsom and President Joe Biden regarding the spread of monkeypox, Riverside County proclaimed a public health emergency on August 8.

Riverside County Public Health officials reported the first probable/confirmed case of monkeypox in the region back in June and have reported 70 probable/confirmed cases to date. The cases have been detected in men between the ages of 20 and 70 who live in the Coachella Valley.

“We have seen the devastating physical effects of Monkeypox on those who have been infected, as well as the emotional toll on partners, family and loved ones,” said Riverside County Public Health Officer Geoffrey Leung in a statement. “Now is the time for Public Health, our community partners and local leadership to reinforce our commitment to work together to slow and eventually stop the spread of this virus.”

Riverside County Public Health Officer Geoffrey Leung signed a proclamation declaring the spread of monkeypox a public health emergency in Riverside County on August 8, 2022 (via Twitter).

Dr. Leung signed the proclamation on August 8 and it is now up to the Board of Supervisors to ratify the action within seven days. The proclamation addresses the county’s need for additional assistance from the state and federal government to “combat the spread of monkeypox and support countywide mitigation efforts.” 

The county has been allocated a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine used to treat monkeypox. JYNNEOS is licensed for adults 18 years and over. It is administered as a two dose injection series in the upper arm at least four weeks apart. Vaccination helps to protect against monkeypox when given before or shortly after being exposed. 

According to public health officials, Riverside County is also working with community partners to provide Tecovirimat (TPOXX) for infected patients who are at higher risk of severe disease from monkeypox. So far, most patients have not required TPOXX and symptoms have resolved on their own with “symptom management strategies.” No deaths have been reported as a result of monkeypox, but some patients who have tested positive have been hospitalized.

The California Department of Public Health reported 1,310 probable and confirmed cases of monkeypox, with about 3% of cases requiring hospitalization. The first probable case of monkeypox was first detected in California on May 21.

Prior to the recent outbreaks, monkeypox was classified as a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus which is related to the smallpox virus. Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with someone who sores, rashes or by sharing bodily fluids through activities like sex, kissing and hugging. Monkeypox can also spread through touching unwashed clothing or bedding used by a person who has monkeypox.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.

Vaccination helps to protect against monkeypox when given before or shortly after an exposure.

Breanna Reeves

Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at or via twitter @_breereeves.