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NYC health commissioner on the monkeypox outbreak

NYC health commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD joins Washington Post Live on Thursday, Aug. 11. (Video: The Washington Post)
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The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency as cases rise across the United States. With New York City currently accounting for more than one-quarter of known monkeypox cases nationwide, Ashwin Vasan, MD commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, joins Washington Post national health reporter Dan Diamond to discuss the growing outbreak and public health efforts to mitigate it.

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“I think we all could have moved faster, right this is a collective effort… [New York City] had our supply which was limited, maybe we could have gotten more, maybe we could have pushed for more... We did what we could with what we had at the time but I think collectively we needed to turn on this response and I’m very grateful that it’s turned on now.” - Ashwin Vasan, MD (Video: Washington Post Live)
“Stigmatizing language, racist language, demonizing language can push people further into the shadows, cause them to delay seeking care and ultimately worsen health outcomes. We can look back at the HIV epidemic which wasn’t called ‘HIV.’ In its early days, it was called ‘gay related immunodeficiency’ causing a great deal of stigma to the gay community… Why, when we have a name that… doesn’t accurately describe anything about the virus or the symptoms itself, why not try to choose a name that’s more neutral, that can be widely understood and that doesn’t call out or affiliate any sort of either racist or stigmatizing language with a particular community group… Internally here at the health department, we are using ‘MPV’ as much as possible.” - Ashwin Vasan, MD (Video: Washington Post Live)
“I don’t think we’re in an emergency right now, we are maybe somewhere in between emergency and endemicity. I don’t know where we are in that journey… The fact that severe illness, the fact that hospitalizations and the fact that the impact overall on human health and society is lessening is a good thing and it causes us to reassess where we are in terms of the data and when to pull out those policies like mask mandates.” - Ashwin Vasan, MD (Video: Washington Post Live)

Ashwin Vasan, MD

Commissioner, New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene