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FEMA’s Fenton to be named monkeypox response coordinator

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White House Considers Appointing Robert J. Fenton Jr. National Monkeypox Response Coordinator amid a growing outbreak that has prompted three states to declare health emergencies, four people say with direct knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the current announcement.

Fenton is a regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he has worked since 1996. He previously served as the agency’s acting administrator. Fenton helped oversee the Biden administration’s efforts to set up coronavirus vaccination sites, which led to him being named a finalist this year for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals awarded by the Partnership for Public Service, a good government group that celebrates federal employees and agencies.

“We simply wouldn’t be where we are today in our country’s fight against COVID-19 without the expertise and leadership of Bob Fenton,” said Jeff Zients, the former response coordinator. to coronaviruses from the White House, as part of Fenton’s recognition. “He has become an indispensable leader in the whole-of-government response – contributing to a historic nationwide immunization program.”

The White House also plans to appoint Demetre Daskalakis, a senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, as Fenton’s first deputy. Daskalakis, a physician who previously served as New York’s health officer, had helped lead the CDC’s work on HIV/AIDS and has been involved in the federal response to monkeypox. Once called New York’s ‘Gay Health Warrior’ by Atlantic magazine, Daskalakis has also spent weeks publicly warning about the risks of monkeypox for men who have sex with men as the virus spreads. mainly in this community.

“Fenton and Daskalakis will lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of testing, vaccinations, and treatment,” according to the planned announcement, obtained by the Washington. Post.

The announcement from the White House is expected on Tuesday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

More than 5,800 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the United States, mostly in the gay and bisexual community, as public health experts fear it will spread to other populations and take hold in the United States permanently. United. While federal officials have touted the availability of tests and treatments to fight the virus, patients and doctors have complained about bureaucratic barriers and a lack of vaccine supplies. Meanwhile, Illinois and California declared states of emergency on Monday, with officials saying the moves would help cut red tape and raise awareness about the spread of the virus. New York State also declared a public health emergency over monkeypox last week.

“California is working urgently at all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and strengthened community partnerships during the pandemic to ensure those most at risk are our priority for vaccines, treatment and awareness, ‘Gov,’ Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement.

In his role as national coordinator, Fenton would lead a response that was previously led by agencies like the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because that they were not allowed to comment.

Asked at a Senate appropriations hearing in April 2021 about the Trump administration’s struggles to coordinate the coronavirus response in 2020, Fenton touted FEMA’s ability to help organize the federal response afterward.

“I think emergency management at all levels of government has a responsibility to be a coordinating function,” Fenton said. “I think that’s something FEMA does very well … to make sure everyone is working toward a common set of goals and unity of effort.”