CDC set to make monkeypox a nationally notifiable condition

Nearly 3,600 cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the CDC, including 439 on Monday, the highest one-day total to date. Yet state health departments, which share information on positive cases, suspected cases and the number of people treated, are not required to provide the federal government with standardized data, leaving the CDC with a patchwork understanding of the virus’ spread.

“Making the condition nationally notifiable positions public health to continuing to monitor and respond to monkeypox after the current outbreak recedes,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said Wednesday.

Declaring monkeypox a nationally notifiable condition, however, offers health officials only a glimpse. This would not let them know, for example, how many people have been vaccinated.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN this week that the agency could not require states to provide data.

“We need the states … to feed us data,” Becerra said. “Most of the time we can’t require states to do this. On Covid, until we declared a public health emergency and started to enact these emergency authorities, we could not require states to provide us this data.”

The administration is still debating whether to declare monkeypox a public health emergency and what ways the response could be enhanced if it did. But the administration does not need to declare monkeypox a public health emergency to make it a nationally notifiable condition, the senior administration official said.

In another sign of the administration’s heightened response, the FDA on Wednesday announced it had cleared an additional facility in Denmark to finish manufacturing monkeypox vaccines, allowing more doses to be distributed and administered.

Last week, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency. WHO officials on Tuesday warned of increasing transmission, urging people in communities where case numbers are high to take precaution by avoiding sexual intercourse.