NEW YORK (PIX11) – Monkeypox was declared a public health emergency in New York City, where it has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.

The declaration on Saturday will allow New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officials to issue emergency orders under the city health code and amend the health code to allow for measures to help slow the spread of monkeypox.

New York City has significantly more monkeypox cases than any other city in the United States. As of Friday, 1,289 people have tested positive for monkeypox in New York City, according to the Health Department.

“We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more [monkeypox vaccine] doses as soon as they become available. This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment,” Mayor Eric Adams and Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a joint statement.

New York City’s emergency declaration comes a day after Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a disaster emergency in response to monkeypox cases statewide.

New York State has had 1,345 monkeypox cases to date, significantly more than California, which has the second most cases in the country at 799, according to the CDC.

“Anyone can get and spread monkeypox. The current cases [in New York City] are primarily spreading through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men; transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people. People in these social circles who have multiple or anonymous sex partners are at a high risk of exposure,” the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website states.

Monkeypox is a contagious disease that is most often spread through direct contact with the rash or sores of someone who has the virus. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or from respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact. Transmission can happen during sex or other intimate activities such as oral, anal or vaginal sex, hugging, kissing or massaging.

The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts. Symptoms usually start seven to 14 days after exposure, but in some cases, they may not appear for up to 21 days, according to health experts.

Most of the people who have contracted monkeypox have not been hospitalized and have recovered on their own, health officials said.