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Andy Cohen is using his platform to spread an important message about the monkeypox virus.
During Monday’s taping of Watch What Happens Live, the host, 54, spoke directly to his gay male audience about the importance of being vigilant during the monkeypox outbreak, which has disproportionately impacted gay and bisexual men.
“Monkeypox cases have risen so dramatically in New York City that mayor Eric Adams issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency today,” Cohen explained. “After what’s been an abysmal response from our government so far, I’m hoping this new order will help our leaders actually deal with this threat and pressure the federal government to deploy badly needed resources like vaccines, which have been very hard to come by.”
Things took a somber turn when the host spoke directly to his queer male audience.
“I want to speak to my gay brothers for a minute,” he began. “We need to take this seriously because this is affecting us at much higher rates than others right now so be aware, get vaccinated if you can and please — I know it’s summer and we all have COVID fatigue — but please be safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks. I know it’s summer, but keep it locked up.”
“At the same time,” he continued, “I call on everyone in the government and the media to not stigmatize our community, which is already under attack from many who’d rather use us as a scapegoat than help us and if you’re not a gay man you might think this doesn’t affect you now, but this is everyone’s problem because as we’ve learned from very recent history: Unless we act now these things can get a whole lot worse very quickly.”
Cohen's video has welcomed a growing number of commenters who are praising the host for speaking candidly about the issue to his audience.
"THANK U ANDY," wrote fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, while actor Russell Tovey added the two-hands-in-the-air emoji.
"Thank you Andy, for such a clear and caring message," one fan wrote, with another adding, "Not many people are speaking out about this newest threat to our health. Thanks Andy. Be safe everyone." Another comment read, "Fantastic Andy! So appreciate you using your platform for this PSA."
The need for such a message is evident: As of August 1, there have been 5,811 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vast majority being men who have sex with men.
While there has been criticism from LGBTQ activists about the lack of planning and vaccine distributions from the government, monkeypox has continued to spread across other cities in America — and not just in gay and bisexual men.
As reported by ABC News, at least four children in the U.S. have now tested positive for monkeypox.
Meanwhile, California and New York have officially declared monkeypox a state of emergency. According to NYC's health department, an approximate 150,000 New Yorkers may “currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure."
In California, as reported by the Associated Press, nearly 800 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the state, per state public health officials. To date, the state has received more than 61,000 vaccine doses and has distributed more than 25,000.
Though monkeypox is rarely fatal, India has just reported one death and Spain has reported two, raising concerns. People usually recover within weeks, though the lesions and blisters caused by the virus are noted to be extremely painful, particularly when they occur in the throat or anus.
At this time, per the CDC, it's not known whether it can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids. It is known, however, that people who do not have symptoms of monkeypox cannot spread the virus to others.