Aug 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden names FEMA veteran to lead monkeypox response

Robert Fenton Jr., acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.

Robert Fenton speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington in 2021. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Tuesday named veteran FEMA official Robert Fenton to lead the government's response to the monkeypox outbreak.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure to do more to stop the spread of monkeypox, which has prompted three states to declare health emergencies.

Driving the news: Fenton, a FEMA regional administrator, has over 25 years of experience in federal emergency response and will serve as the White House national monkeypox response coordinator.

  • Demetre Daskalakis, currently the director of the CDC Division of HIV prevention, will serve as the administration's deputy coordinator.
  • The two will "lead the administration’s strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments," per a White House statement.

What they're saying: "Bob Fenton and Dr. Daskalakis are proven, effective leaders that will lead a whole of government effort to implement President Biden’s comprehensive monkeypox response strategy with the urgency that this outbreak warrants," Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement.

The big picture: Fenton currently serves as regional administrator for FEMA in the American West, with nearly 50 million people in his area of responsibility.

  • Daskalakis is a widely known national expert on health issues affecting the LGBTQ community.
  • Fenton and Daskalakis combined have over four decades of experience in Federal emergency response and public health leadership, the White House said.

State of play: California and Illinois on Monday joined New York state and the city of San Francisco in declaring a health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak.

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