CHICAGO — Monkeypox is now a public health emergency for Illinois. 

Declaring the state a disaster area should help coordinate a statewide response.

Illinois has the third highest number of cases in the country, behind New York and California. 

The majority of cases have been reported in Chicago. 

So city leaders are trying to increase awareness.  

 The Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady spoke about the virus Tuesday.

“Turn the lights on before you turn the lights off by having a conversation with your partners,” “If either of you have a sore, go get diagnosed before having that contact.” 

Monkeypox spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. It’s rarely fatal, but it can cause a painful and infectious rash.  

“If you are men having sex with men, you should know that’s the community we’re seeing the most spread of this virus in at the moment,” Arwady said.  

The U.S. has just under 6,000 confirmed cases. 

Chicago’s current case count is 434, about 8% of the total cases in the country. 

Noel Green, outreach manager of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination said he hopes the city’s monkeypox campaign will prompt important conversations between partners.

“I think it brings awareness for us to take conversations about our bodies and sex seriously,” Green said.

CCHE is setting up mobile clinics throughout the city that aims to educate people about monkeypox and vaccinations.

“With urgency also comes a little fear as well, so making sure we’re providing the level of service that makes people comfortable in addition to administering the vaccines they’re receiving,” Green said.  

Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency for Illinois Monday. This allows state agencies to better coordinate with federal and local governments to respond to the outbreak. 

Officials hope it helps ramp up vaccine distribution in the coming weeks. 

Chicago received an additional 15,000 doses over the weekend, but they’re already gone.  

Since supply is limited, the vaccine is not yet recommended for the general public. 

“We are still seeing appointments get filled up right away,” Arwady said. “As soon as we are posting appointments, within minutes they are gone. And that tells us there is still a lot more demand than supply.” 

Anyone interested in more information about the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination may click here

Arwady said another batch of vaccines are expected to arrive in the next one to two weeks. 

The city plans to hold larger vaccination events once they have more.