SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Senators heard from a panel of public health professionals and people who tested positive for monkeypox before hearing from the public at its first select committee hearing.
There’s easily a list of at least a dozen steps they believe need to be taken to help address the monkeypox outbreak.
One of the big steps is giving full approval to a medication they say provides relief to patient suffering, but there’s so much red tape that it takes hours before a doctor could possibly prescribe it.
Speaker after speaker drew the same parallel between monkeypox and the HIV epidemic.
“Making jokes about gay men getting sick and dying and doing nothing as we had a mass die off of gay men. Thank God that monkeypox is not deadly, like HIV, but people are suffering," said Committee Chair state Senator Scott Wiener.
Each speaker says California can do better.
“I can’t believe it’s 2022, under a Joe Biden administration, and this is still something we have to rally for,” Jack Hebb said.
Hebb is "Castro Proud," which he referred to as the "gayest neighborhood in San Francisco."
He traveled to the Capitol to give public comment, hoping to fight for his community where he says everyone knows someone who has it.
“I ended up in the ER three times over the course of four and a half days,” San Francisco resident David Watson said.
Watson knows the pain first hand. He ran into a friend on the street, gave him a kiss on the cheek, only to find out there was a monkeypox lesion mistaken as an ingrown hair.
“It didn't matter whether I was sitting, standing or lying down," he said "The pain was off the charts.”
There are 300,000 to 400,000 people in California that the state epidemiologist said are at high risk of becoming like Watson.
“We need more testing," Senator Wiener said. "We know right now the only test that the FDA has approved is swabbing the lesions from monkeypox. So if someone doesn't have lesions or if a test is done incorrectly, their tests may be falsely negative.”
Senator Wiener, the leader of the committee, ran through a list of steps that need to be taken.
“You might have to isolate for three or four weeks if you get monkeypox, and for people who can't work from home, they need to have paid sick leave,” he said.
The state also said they are exploring more telehealth options for patients because right now all patients are required to get screened.