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100+ monkeypox cases in DC, highest per capita rate in the country

Washington D.C. makes up about 6% of the monkeypox cases across the United States, averaging about eight new cases per day.
Credit: AP
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington, during a news conference to announce a new 7 p.m. curfew for the city for the next two nights. Across the United States people gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — D.C. has the highest number of monkeypox cases per capita in comparison to all states, according to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of D.C. Health. The two leaders addressed the outbreak, vaccination availability and encouraged additional D.C. residents to pre-register for a vaccination appointment, during a press conference Monday afternoon. 

Monkeypox cases continue to rise in the D.C. region, with 122 active cases in the District, according to DC Health. CDC data shows D.C. is among the regions with the highest number of monkeypox cases in the country,  accounting for approximately 6% of the monkeypox cases across the United States, averaging eight new cases per day; if D.C. were a state it would be the fifth-highest for cases after New York (489), California (266), Illinois (174), and Florida (154). 

Bowser and D.C. Health have so far opened up two vaccine sites for D.C. residents by appointment only to combat the increased numbers of monkeypox cases. Monkeypox vaccinations are confidential, free, and available to eligible residents by clicking here, but in high demand as the past two openings have filled up in a matter of minutes. 

D.C. Health is assisting residents who have tested positive for monkeypox, and anyone who may have had close contact. Through a 24-hour hotline, D.C. Health will guide healthcare providers who believe a patient has monkeypox. 

In response to the outbreak, the District has: 

  • Received 8,300 doses of the JYENNOS vaccine and administered approximately 2,600 doses, with additional vaccinations occurring this week.
  • Set up two vaccination sites and residents can pre-register for an appointment at preventmonkeypox.dc.gov.
  • Used contact tracing to identify more than 459 close contacts in the District and offer them vaccination appointments.
  • Acquired TPOXX, an antiviral used for persons with weakened immune systems and others who are more likely to become seriously ill, and providing it to healthcare partners around the city.

Last week, D.C. Health announced residents in the District could pre-register for monkeypox vaccination appointments. Once appointments become available, people who pre-registered will receive an email invitation to make an appointment. D.C. residents will then have 48 hours to claim their appointment.

In a letter to the community Friday, Bowser said if more eligible people pre-register for the vaccine, D.C. can make a stronger case for requesting more vaccine doses. So far she says D.C. has received 8,300 doses, but the district estimates it needs 100,000 doses; 2,600 people have been vaccinated so far in D.C. and Bowser says approximately 7,600 people have pre-registered for a vaccine appointment. 

Currently, the eligibility for the vaccination includes residents that are 18 years of age or older that fit one of the following descriptions:

  • Gay, bisexual and other men 18 and older who have sex with men and have had multiple sexual partners or any anonymous sexual partners in the last 14 days
  • Transgender women or nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men
  • Sex workers
  • Staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs, including bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs

"While most cases are occurring in individuals identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community, this is not a disease of that community alone," Nesbitt said Monday. "Anyone can contract it and we cannot create stigma. We encourage people to look out for symptoms." 

The median age of cases in D.C. is 32 and the age range is 18-64, with a majority occurring in 30-34-year-old individuals; 63% of the cases have been among people who identify as white, 96% identify as male and 82% identify as gay. So far there have been no fatal cases. 

Maryland has 37 cases of monkeypox and Virginia 44. Virginia’s cases doubled in the last three days, per CDC data. Virginia and Maryland have not yet announced widespread vaccination efforts. Maryland distributed 200 doses to Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

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