Monkeypox emergency orders issued by Austin-Travis County leaders

Austin-Travis County leaders have declared a joint emergency order in response to the rising number of monkeypox cases.

There are nearly 70 cases in the county, and with upcoming festivals and school about to start, officials expect that number will to continue to rise.

"We're here today to declare a public health emergency related to the increasing number of cases of the monkeypox virus here in Austin and Travis County," said Judge Andy Brown.

There are 68 probable and confirmed monkeypox cases in Travis County.

The disease, which spreads through close contact, has a 3-6 percent fatality rate and can cause fever, chills, headache and a rash.

"The pain can be quite excruciating, particularly if it's in the mouth or on the genitalia or anal areas, because those are really sensitive mucosal surfaces linings," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, with the Austin-Travis County Health Authority.

To date, Austin Public Health has received 3,154 of the 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine available nationwide.

"We've gotten a pretty large proportion of the vaccine available nationally, and it is not enough. We need the federal government to do everything it can to increase availability of medicine and vaccine," said Mayor Steve Adler.

Officials said the emergency order is largely symbolic.

"There's nothing in the orders themselves that that order any specific conduct or rules. So it raises awareness and demonstrates to the community the seriousness of the moment," Mayor Adler said.

Still, with cases climbing, they hope this will allow them to eventually be reimbursed for funds.

"We just need to be aware, and we need to take precautions as best we can," Mayor Adler said.

Tuesday, federal health officials authorized a plan to stretch the limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dosage. 

The White House's monkeypox response coordinator said the plan will help the country quote "stay ahead of the virus."