Becerra decides to not extend mpox public health emergency set to expire next month

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not renew the public health emergency for the mpox outbreak when it ends next month, as infection rates dramatically decline from the peak back in August.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Friday that the PHE will not be renewed for another 90 days, meaning it will expire on Jan. 31, 2023. The PHE was created back in August to address the growing outbreak. Becerra emphasized though that “we won’t take our foot off the gas — we will continue to monitor the case trends closely and encourage all at-risk individuals to get a free vaccine,” according to a statement.

The PHE brought new authorities to federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to collect testing and hospitalization data on mpox cases. It also aided the administration’s rollout this past summer of the JYNNEOS mpox vaccine to states and jurisdictions. 

The number mpox cases has declined in recent months. At the beginning of August, the seven-day average of mpox cases was 459. Now that figure has dropped to seven as of Nov. 30, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Becerra said the federal government is going to continue to keep a close eye on the outbreak to ensure it does not flare up again. 

“As we move into the next phase of this effort, the Biden-Harris administration continues working closely with jurisdictions and partners to monitor trends, especially in communities that have been disproportionately affected,” the secretary said.