Santa Clara Co. outlines monkeypox strategy, shares data on who's disproportionately impacted

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Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Santa Clara County's top doctor outlined the county's monkeypox strategy and shared new details about who is most disproportionately impacted.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County's top doctor outlined the county's monkeypox strategy and shared new details about who is most disproportionately impacted.

County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody, confirmed Wednesday, 41% of the county's cases are among Hispanic or Latino Gay and Bisexual men, as compared to the 26% of Latinos in the county's population.

"Similar to COVID and other infectious diseases, we do keep data to understand who's becoming infected," Dr. Cody told reporters. "This allows us to do a better job of focusing our efforts on prevention and treatment."

Among the 39 county residents confirmed to have had the infectious disease, data shows 21 are Hispanic or Latino. Those numbers, as of Wednesday evening.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Everything you need to know about origin, infection, vaccines, and treatment

ABC7 News turned to Omar Nunez, co-founder of Colectivo Accion Latina de Ambiente in San Jose, a community for LGBTQ+ Latinos and Latinas.

He explained he's not surprised by the stats out Wednesday.

"We're more gregarious," he described of his culture. "We are more in groups, family, etc."

According to the 2021 U.S. Census, 31% of San Jose's population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. It's a community that has also been significantly impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: US signs off on 800,000 more doses of monkeypox vaccine

"I wouldn't say defeated, I will say challenged," Nunez described. "Every time when we think we're getting out of one, then there comes another one."

More than just informing Latino gay and bisexual men about the risks of monkeypox, Nunez said Spanish-speakers need greater outreach.

"They don't even know about it," he said, referencing the county's monkeypox vaccine distribution. "We need more information among the community in general and in Spanish."

Dr. Cody said regardless of race, most, but not all identified cases in the county have been among men who have sex with men. She added, a majority involve those in their 40s.

Wednesday also marked the first of a monkeypox vaccine clinic at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Expo Hall. She said 380 appointments have been already fully booked for Wednesday and Thursday.

RELATED: Report: US government took 'wait-and-see' monkeypox approach; deprioritized gay men's health

Dr. Cody explained that even with the current low vaccine supply, more doses are on the way to Santa Clara County.

"This comes from the federal government, then the state government, then to the counties," she told reporters. "And we'll get another, a little over 700 doses additionally, coming into the county. We don't know exactly yet when those will arrive."

Cody said 622 doses have already been administered county-wide. Of that number, 611 were administered by county, the rest by large healthcare systems.

"We have a lot of experience through COVID and our teams are ready and doing what they know how to do best," Dr. Cody said. "And we're also extraordinarily lucky to have the partnerships we do with the organizations that serve the LGBTQ community, because I don't think that we could protect people as well without those partnerships."

Dr. Cody on Wednesday, amplifying her advocacy for increased supply.

When asked for her response to the push from State Sen. Scott Wiener to get San Francisco and the state to declare a State of Emergency, Cody said, "What a State of Emergency would do would be to help free up resources. I think here in the Santa Clara County and most communities, what we really need is vaccine."

She added, "We need to get ahead of this. And the way to get ahead of it is with more vaccine, and getting vaccine into arms of people who are most likely to be at risk."

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