While the state may have taken the lead by declaring monkeypox an emergency this week, that doesn’t mean officials in Palm Springs are taking a back seat.
Driving the news: On Tuesday, Palm Springs City Manager Justin Clifton and Assistant City Manager Teresa Gallavan joined multiple area healthcare and government partners on the California Department of Public Health LGBTQ Community Stakeholder Zoom call. It was just one of several meetings they’ve attended over the past month as they sought to learn as much as they can about how best to respond to the outbreak.
- City leaders have also been in direct contact with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and worked with multiple local health organizations, both private and public, in an effort to advocate on behalf of area residents who may be among the most vulnerable to exposure.
Of particular importance has been securing additional vaccines for the area. Dr. Phyllis Ritchie, who sounded the alarm about the lack of testing and vaccines here in June, said Tuesday the effort of city officials and others working on behalf of the community is paying off.
- “I have a feeling things are going to start moving soon,” Ritchie said in response to concerns voiced during a meeting of local business leaders that not enough was being done to bring vaccines here.
At issue: The city doesn’t have a health department, so must coordinate its response with not only health care providers in the Coachella Valley, but also multiple local, county, and state agencies. Similar to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that coordination can get complicated.
Behind the scenes: City Councilmember Geoff Kors, who also participated in the Zoom call with the state, said that despite the dependencies the city is still able to take several actions to assist area residents. Among them:
- A section of the city website will soon have monkeypox information and answers to frequently asked questions, and city communications staff will find other ways to spread the word.
- The city plans to begin wastewater testing for the presence of monkeypox, similar to testing done to detect levels of COVID-19.
- Officials will continue to generate advocacy letters and work with partners to secure as many vaccines as possible for local clinics.
Why that matters: The total number of confirmed and probable monkeypox cases in Riverside County has increased by six since late last week to 34, a county spokesman said Monday.
- Most of the reported cases have come from Eastern Riverside County, which includes Palm Springs.