Monkey Cups Capture New York City Off Guard (Again)

Over the past month, the number of people identified with monkey pox in New York City has increased more than 30 times, from 10 to 336, a figure that certainly underestimates the incidence, given that many cases have gone undiagnosed. . During this period, Mayor Eric Adams was busy celebrating Pride, holding a party at the Gracie Palace and reminding the world how deeply New York embraces the LGBTQ community, while so many other parts of the country seem set on a decline to the Stone Wall before. era.

“Here in New York,” the mayor declared, “we are happy to say ‘we are gay’.”

But “we” don’t get monkey pox, a disease that primarily (and currently) affects men who have sex with men. The lack of public information about the disease, along with the difficulties surrounding access to the vaccine, has shown how the declared love and support coming from the left can feel rhetorical.

In the most liberal parts of the country, we are, apparently, in the midst of a new wave of liberation and understanding around sexuality and gender identity, one that is transforming the social order and expanding our cultural prospects. Movies like “Fire Island”, to take a recent example, a romantic comedy set among a group of queer, ethnically diverse friends during a hedonistic week in Pines, enjoy a mainstream popularity that would have avoided themselves a decade ago. And yet, at the same time, we are here, decades after the AIDS crisis, unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a virus that disproportionately affects gay men.

Although monkey pox has not killed anyone in the United States, it causes symptoms similar to smallpox – fever, chills, muscle aches, a violent rash that has the potential to disrupt a patient’s life for weeks. Among gay men in New York, the epicenter of the outbreak nationwide, anxiety has been rising. “There’s such a plague on society this summer,” said Michael Donnelly, a public health activist. “There’s a real sense of injustice because we’ve just been through this. So many of us were trying to do the right thing.”

“This” is, of course, Covid, which gay men have taken very seriously; From the earliest days of vaccination, Hell’s Kitchen, where many live, has maintained one of the highest inoculation rates in the city.

By profession, Mr. Donnelly a computer scientist who served as a consultant for the state of New York in the first year of the pandemic. Because of this, his friends have turned to him for help figuring out what to do about monkey pox. A friend, he said, has been suffering for eight days and has still not received his test results. “They get conflicting messages. Is this a venereal disease or is it not?” Interestingly, the Centers for Disease Control explains that people with monkey pox “generally report having close, sustained physical contact” with others who have contracted the virus.

“The system has been squeaking slowly to respond to this crisis,” Mr. Donnelly. “There is antiviral treatment for this, but people do not get treatments due to regulatory barriers. And in addition, you have other people who would settle for pain treatment, but I think doctors just do not realize how eerily painful this is. is – there are knives every time you go to the toilet – and people go home with prescriptions for Tylenol. “

On Tuesday, the third time the city’s health department offered registration for vaccine appointments, the planning site quickly shut down, prompting Erik Bottcher, a city council member representing Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, who knows four people who have contracted the virus over the past week. , to write on Twitter: “Aaaand the website goes down immediately. Who could have foreseen this? a: ALLE. “

The first few occasions when vaccine appointments became available in late June and again earlier in the month were also plagued by problems. On the morning of July 6, the city’s health department said on Twitter that a new round of appointments was underway, but did not follow up again until early in the afternoon, at which time officials announced that a “mistake” had resulted in the appointments already is taken.

The supply of vaccines has not been close enough to meet demand, mainly because hundreds of thousands of doses have been sequestered in Denmark, a result of the FDA’s refusal to release them on the grounds that the factory where they were manufactured had not recently been inspected. even if the EU equivalent of the Agency had done so.

“I think it is embarrassing for us as a country that immediately after the Covid-19 pandemic we are taken by another pandemic and we are unable to resolve it properly,” he said. Bottcher me.

Faced with increasing pressure, Mr. Adams earlier this week advised the Biden administration to deliver more vaccines to the city in addition to what has already been allocated, which includes 14,500 new doses that have just arrived and which the city plans to distribute in each district. But that number represents about 10 percent of the total country, though the city has 32 per cent of the country’s cases. Issues of fair access are also worrying, given that the city’s reliance on Twitter to distribute vaccine availability information has privileged them with time to linger online.

Among those lucky enough to have received their shots, many were able to book appointments through advance notice from a whispering network of well-connected men in technology, healthcare and media when a much broader demographic would have benefited use a broad information campaign.

With conversations about diversity, equality and inclusion in mind in almost every sector of today’s life, was this really the way forward?

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