If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the U.S. federal government is wholly unprepared (and often unwilling) to fight a virus or disease that sweeps quickly through the country, and that misinformation about public health can spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, the next big health scare is upon us, with monkeypox rates rising and dangerous, stigmatizing misinformation about how it spreads growing online. With the start of the school year upon us, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the responsibility to adequately educate the public about risks to keep all of us safer from the dangerous virus.
Sign now to demand the CDC run a public health campaign that focuses on school health and reducing the spread of monkeypox in schools!
Monkeypox has been in and out of the news cycle for the past few months, but it is quickly emerging as a serious public health threat. By the end of July, the U.S. reported over 5,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the country. While the virus is not as contagious as COVID-19, it has been declared a national health emergency by President Joe Biden and a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. But the CDC has not done enough to give clear, helpful messaging to Americans about how they can reduce their risk.
Naturally, once kids go back to schools, germs often spread like wildfire, meaning monkeypox cases are likely to increase. The school season also coincides with colder-weather months in most of the U.S., which is also peak season for infections proliferating. This will, sadly, give bigots a big opportunity to double down on the lies they spread online.
To make matters worse, members of the LGBTQ+ community are already experiencing hatred and stigma because of rising monkeypox rates. Even in "rainbow cities," queer folks -- especially gay men -- are already being harassed. The CDC must launch an accurate, anti-stigma health messaging campaign that helps inform Americans about risk as the school year approaches. By focusing on safety precautions that everyone can do, and getting ahead of the dangerous, stigmatizing stereotypes that are spread online, the CDC can help protect all of us.
Crucially, many of the most effective strategies used to protect ourselves from COVID-19 can also be used to keep us safe from monkeypox, too. Wearing masks in crowded, indoor places can help reduce spread, as well as avoiding sharing personal use items such as clothing and food or beverages. These same principles can be applied to schools, but the CDC needs to get on top of messaging before it is too late.
We cannot let the spread of monkeypox contribute to vile, hateful stereotypes and stigma against queer people. The CDC needs to set the record straight and run an accurate public health messaging campaign that prepares Americans for indoor fall and winter activities such as attending school. Sign the petition now if you agree!