HHS announces Office of Environmental Justice; CDC says Memorial Day weekend COVID-19 cases were up nearly 6 times over last year; World Health Organization says the monkeypox outbreak is unlikely to lead to a pandemic.
On Tuesday, HHS announced its new Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), which will address climate-related health issues, especially those affecting underserved and marginalized communities, The Hill reported. The OEJ will be overseen by the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and led by interim director Sharunda Buchanan, PhD, MS, a former CDC official specializing in environmental issues. This office will develop HHS’ broader environmental health strategies and coordinate its annual environmental justice reports, implement methods to reduce the impact the health sector has on carbon emissions, and focus on strengthening resilience to address health effects of climate change.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 cases reported over Memorial Day weekend were nearly 6 times higher than last year, ABC News reported. The CDC also said this marks the eighth consecutive week of increasing US COVID-19 cases, with nearly 110,000 new cases reported every day. This also marks week 7 of increasing pediatric cases, with 112,000 new cases reported last week, reflecting a doubling of cases vs 4 weeks prior. At this time in 2021, around 10,000 pediatric cases were reported each week.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that monkeypox is unlikely to lead to a pandemic, following news of more than 300 confirmed and suspected cases in May, Reuters reported. WHO officials said it is still unclear whether people with monkeypox who are asymptomatic can transmit the disease, which typically spreads through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and skin lesions. However, the WHO is debating whether to assess this outbreak as a "potential public health emergency of international concern" to accelerate research and funding—and, therefore, containment—of the disease, as was done with COVID-19 and Ebola.