Rep. Ritchie Torres Requests Information from President Biden and HHS Secretary Becerra on the Administration’s Planned Response to Recent Mpox Resurgence in the DRC

Rep. Torres joined on letter by Rep. Mark Pocan, Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus

Today, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra regarding the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s warnings of increasing cases of Mpox in the United States and potential new cases of a deadlier strain in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rep. Torres was joined on the letter by Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), the Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

An excerpt of the letter reads:

“Given the resurgence of Mpox and the potential threat posed by the Clade I variant, we urge the Administration to share the current strategy and actions being undertaken to address these challenges. Specifically, we request detailed information on:

  • The measures HHS is implementing to prevent the resurgence of Mpox in the United States, including any new protocols or strategies developed since the 2022 outbreak.
  • The steps being taken to enhance coordination and communication among HHS agencies and with other relevant stakeholders to ensure a timely and effective response to the current and potential future outbreaks.
  • The efforts being made to improve risk communication and outreach to vulnerable populations, particularly those disproportionately affected by the 2022 outbreak.
  • The status of testing and vaccine distribution as well as any improvements made to expedite the deployment of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in response to new Mpox cases.
  • The actions being taken to increase vaccination rates among at-risk populations, including efforts to overcome barriers to vaccination.
  • Any collaborations or support being provided to international partners, particularly in the DRC, to control the spread of the Clade I variant and mitigate the risk of it emerging in the United States. 

Mpox has a disproportionately destructive impact on the LGBTQ+ community, whose public health needs have long been ignored. We are deeply committed to ensuring that our nation’s public health response is robust and effective, addressing the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community and all other at-risk populations.”

As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and the sole LGBTQ+ member of Congress from New York City — which was the epicenter of the Mpox outbreak — Rep. Torres has fought tirelessly to ensure that his community’s vital health needs are not forgotten.

In April, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a long-awaited report: “Public Health Preparedness: Mpox Response Highlights Need for HHS to Address Recurring Challenges.” Beginning in July 2022, Rep. Torres was the leading Congressional voice urging the GAO and HHS to do such a report, and he is grateful to the GAO for tackling this crucial issue head-on. Following the GAO’s recommendations, Rep. Torres introduced legislation to address the identified challenges and improve the nation’s public health preparedness.

The full letter can be found here.

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