As if you didn’t have enough to worry about with inflation, COVID, crime, and possible war dominating the news, now you have something new to keep you up at night: monkeypox. Despite the disease overwhelmingly occurring in men who have sex with other men, federal and state governments want you to be scared—really scared.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is of course shrieking as he sounds the alarm. From the gov’s website Monday night:
As part of the state’s ongoing response to the monkeypox outbreak, Governor Gavin Newsom today declared a State of Emergency to bolster the state’s vaccination efforts. The proclamation supports the work underway by the California Department of Public Health and others in the administration to coordinate a whole-of-government response to monkeypox, seek additional vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts on accessing vaccines and treatment.
Please note: California is STILL under a two-plus-year State of Emergency because of COVID. At this rate, it’s quite likely that the Golden State will be under a State of Emergency for one reason or another for the rest of eternity. The announcement continued:
We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization.
I have no interest in stigmatizing gay men or anyone else in the LGBTQ community (though I’m pretty sure that monkeypox is not showing up in many lesbians). What I do take issue with, however, is that the powers at be are falsely reporting the story to protect those they consider untouchable. The situation with COVID was remarkably similar: for almost three years now they have been selling us a message that we’re all equally at risk from COVID—but it’s simply not true.
While they’ve stigmatized kids throughout the pandemic as deadly threats to their grandparents and teachers, the truth is that children were at little to no risk from the original Wuhan Flu, but the elderly and obese most certainly were. Just last month, actor Jon Cryer called children “unchecked vectors for a lethal infectious disease.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a Monkeypox State of Emergency. The first public official or union leader who suggests closing the schools will be featured by name in the very next column I write. Good luck, everybody! pic.twitter.com/1OhrmxhgeL
— Susan Shelley (@Susan_Shelley) August 2, 2022
A dad friend of mine told me the other night that his 21-year-old, heterosexual, monogamous daughter came to him looking pale and quite scared. “Dad, should I be worried about monkeypox?” No sweetie, sorry to be gross, but unless you’re actively having sex with gay men with open sores you should be fine. We live in a culture of fear, and our formerly trusted health institutions seem to lust in peddling it.
NPR reports that “the first California case of the current outbreak of monkeypox was confirmed May 25. The total count in the state is now 825, compared to 5,811 cases nationwide.” EMERGENCY!
The Washington Post describes how you might get it:
The pathogen enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, rectum and anus. Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other activities where there is close contact with many people may increase the risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing.
So why are they trying to terrify the entire population when only a small percentage take part in highly risky behavior? And why are authorities seeming to promote these behaviors instead of accurately reporting on the risks? They locked kids out of school for well over a year, but the geniuses in San Francisco think it’s too much to ask to postpone what is sure to be a massively carnal festival:
Dore is here, but so is monkeypox. Here are some ideas to reduce your risk, and still enjoy your favorite kink & fetish festival in San Francisco. #upyouralley #dorealley #monkeypox #mpx
— San Francisco AIDS Foundation (@SFAIDSFound) July 27, 2022
The Post further describes those who are at most risk:
Although anyone can get monkeypox, most cases occur in men. In endemic areas of Africa, it was thought that was related to hunting practices, whereas in the current outbreak, most individuals are men aged 21 to 40 years who have sex with men, people with multiple sexual partners, or people who practice condom-less sex. Close skin-to-skin contact during sex is the primary mode of transmission in such cases.
So small children are at risk? Seems unlikely. The NY Times was quick to shame those who don’t spend their days freaking out over monkeypox:
Now if monkeypox gains a permanent foothold in the United States and becomes an endemic virus that joins our circulating repertoire of pathogens, it will be one of the worst public health failures in modern times not only because of the pain and peril of the disease but also because it was so avoidable.
Sorry, but it sounds a bit histrionic to me to say that a mostly non-lethal virus circulating among a small group of people is about to become one of “the worst public health failures in modern times.”
Monkeypox is real, and it doesn’t sound fun, even if it’s not particularly deadly. I think all precautions (not putting a Band-Aid over an open sore) should be taken by whoever is actually at risk, and vaccines and other measures should be used as necessary. But the effort to terrify everyone in an already COVID-weary society is deeply misplaced. I firmly believe in protecting the vulnerable, just as public health directors and blue-state governors should have protected the nursing home patients in New York and Michigan in the early days of the pandemic.
Stop trying to scare the pants off the entire population who are mostly not at risk.