This week, as cases continue to rise, the monkeypox outbreak was declared an emergency at both the state and federal levels.
After more than two years of living through the COVID pandemic, many questions are swirling around this newest virus: what are the symptoms, how is it transmitted, why is it predominantly impacting the LGBTQ community, and when might vaccines become more readily available?
To answer those questions, and more, Elex Michaelson is joined on "The Issue Is" by Dr. Erica Pan, chief epidemiologist for California’s Department of Public Health.
Then, an in-depth conversation with Democratic strategist, and author of the New York Times Bestseller "Any Given Tuesday," Lis Smith.
Smith, an alum of many political campaigns, including President Barack Obama, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and more, talks about the book, about her relationship with former Governor Eliot Spitzer, and the future of the Democratic Party, especially in the lead up to the 2022 midterms and 2024 general election.
THE ISSUE IS: WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?
DR. PAN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Monkeypox is a previously rare disease. It's caused by an infection with a virus that is related to the smallpox virus, but much less severe, much less contagious. It's primarily spread through close, very personal skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox. Typically, people get a flu-like syndrome and then have a rash or sores that look like little blisters, and it can be spread from person-to-person, or animals, or also from materials that are contaminated, like clothing or bedding…"
THE ISSUE IS: MONKEYPOX TRANSMISSION AND THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
DR. PAN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Anyone can get monkeypox, especially after having close physical contact with someone who has the infection... The risk to the general public is low, in 2022, monkeypox has been reported in many countries where it's not usually seen and has really hit the gay community as a social network, so, you know, and it's not a sexually transmitted disease, per se, but, you know, obviously when you have close, intimate contact, you're having skin-to-skin contact and that, again, is how this disease is spread - so, it seems to have hit this particular community, and this network, hard in the last several months.... I think it's important for us to mention, too, that our team here at California Department of Health is committed to reducing any stigma among the LGBTQ community, and again, yes, it's not a gay disease, anybody can get monkeypox…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE CURRENT LIMITED MONKEYPOX VACCINE SUPPLY
DR. PAN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The vaccine supply is extremely limited still, so, you know, to give you an example, so far here in California, we've received just over 109,000 doses. We do anticipate a little bit more in mid-August, but our understanding is that there is, at least for the next few weeks or so, only about a little over a million doses for the whole country, right. We're a state of 40 million people. We did send a letter to our federal partners recently saying actually what we think we need in California to get to our highest-risk population is probably more like 800,000 doses, and again, we've gotten like one-eighth of that, so it's extremely limited right now…"
THE ISSUE IS: LIS SMITH’S TIME AS PETE BUTTIGIEG’S COMMS DIRECTOR
SMITH'S CENTRAL TAKE: "I first sat down with [Buttigieg] when he was running for DNC chair in January of 2017 - I'd done phone calls with him in December of 2016 - and that was a time when Democrats thought that to beat Trump, they had to be Trump, you know, that they had to get down in the mud with him, everyone was sort of yelling and screaming on cable news and seeing who could be the most offensive and loud. Pete had a very different strategy from the beginning, and his whole strategy was rooted in talking about his values, like freedom and fairness, but also in avoiding the demonization of other people. His gamble was that voters would look for someone who was the complete opposite of Donald Trump, and so he radiated kindness, empathy, you know, he was brilliant, spoke seven languages, and I just found him to be the most compelling communicator I'd ever encountered in the Democratic Party…"
THE ISSUE IS: GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM’S POLITICAL FUTURE
SMITH'S CENTRAL TAKE: "You know, [Newsom] had that blowout win in the recall, and as a Democrat, I would personally like to see more governors out there on the national stage, and accomplished governors like Gavin Newsom. So, I think he's got a great message and he's a great voice to counteract the extremism that we're seeing from Republican governors. And I know he's got that big war chest, and I would just hope that maybe he uses it to help elect Dems in some of these battleground states…"
THE ISSUE IS: DEMOCRATS’ MIDTERM CHANCES
SMITH'S CENTRAL TAKE: "The landscape has shifted significantly over the last couple of months and I would attribute that mostly to the Dobbs decision, a little bit to the mass shootings, which, unlike in the past, have not faded from the headlines... The most important thing, though, for Democrats to do is not let this be a referendum on Joe Biden. With all of his accomplishments, the American people are still feeling pain from inflation and gas prices. What we need to do is make this a choice, and it's a choice between Democrats who are trying to give them relief and Republicans who vote against important measure, after important measure…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.