Monkeypox cases are declining in many areas of the country, but the Biden administration is warning that the virus still poses a danger and pushing for lawmakers to approve its multibillion-dollar funding request to combat it.
More than 23,000 infections have been confirmed in the U.S. during the outbreak, but the growth has slowed. Cases have dropped about 50 percent in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from an average of 440 cases a day on Aug. 16 to 170 cases a day on Sept. 14.
White House officials are cheering the updates and taking credit for the progress made so far.
“There’s no question that the work we’ve done to rapidly increase vaccine supply, get people vaccinated, [ramp] up the availability of testing and treatments, and educate individuals on how they can protect themselves is making a tremendous difference. The administration’s strategy is working,” Bob Fenton, White House monkeypox response coordinator, said during a recent press briefing.
Officials are also preaching caution and warning that the virus remains a threat, especially if the administration does not have enough funding to help end the outbreak.
“We should note that we have made strong progress, and we’re encouraged by the cases, the case rate of rise declining,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “And yet we are keeping our — the gas pedal heavily, heavily downward — pedal to the metal — as we continue … the vigilance here.”
The White House requested $4.5 billion for monkeypox response in the upcoming government spending bill. The funding would go towards increasing access to vaccinations, testing, treatment and operational support, as well as helping to combat monkeypox globally.
But Republicans have largely soured on providing any new money, and want the administration to work with what it already has.
“In my view, adding additional funding in that area would make it a very heavy lift for myself and other Republicans,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters. “There’s ample revenue that’s been provided to the administration to be able to deal with medical emergencies of this nature.”
Last week, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Republicans had “zero” interest in providing additional funding.
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