SPRINGFIELD Ill. (WCIA) — Governor J.B. Pritzker declared the monkeypox virus outbreak a public health emergency Monday.  

The emergency disaster proclamation allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to work with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to expand testing and vaccination efforts in the state.

“These measures will allow the state to deploy all our resources in fighting this disease and will open efficient lines of communication and cooperation across state lines,” said Dr. Sameer Vohra, IDPH Director.

In the declaration, Pritzker also noted the outbreak is disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

“Here in Illinois we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care,” Pritzker said.

According to IDPH data, Illinois has had 520 cases of monkeypox as of Monday. Most cases have been located within the city of Chicago, but central Illinois has seen cases recently. Champaign County had its second case and Sangamon County its first probable case last week.

Public health officials said education on the virus is one of the most important preventative measures.

“At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the United States is believed to be low,” said Robert Davies of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. “Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. However, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get and should take steps to protect themselves.”

White monkeypox is not as contagious as COVID-19, people should still be aware of the signs and symptoms. Davies said that people who think they have monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider.