On the strength of 7,510 cases, and no deaths, HHS secretary Xavier Becerra has declared the monkeypox outbreak a national emergency in the U.S. nearly 3 months after the original cases were found and traced back to ‘sex at two raves in Europe’ reports NBC news

What was predicted and witnessed during Covid, as the U.S. expanded testing, cases increased. 

An early study by the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 528 monkeypox infections diagnosed between April 27 and June 24, 2022 at 43 sites in 16 countries. The researchers stated: 

“Overall, 98% of the persons with infection were gay or bisexual men, 75% were White, and 41% had human immunodeficiency virus infection; the median age was 38 years. Transmission was suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in 95% of the persons with infection.”

The media is working overtime to shake off this stigma and make sure everyone is sufficiently scared no matter what your sexual orientation. Children’s case counts have soared to five and even a pregnant woman has been identified in a U.S. first.  

Some states aren’t biting in the race to increase the fear and (over)reach for more control over their populations. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did not follow California, New York, and Illinois in declaring state public health emergencies stating

I am so sick of politicians — and we saw this with COVID — trying to sow fear into the population….We had people calling, mothers worried about whether their kids could catch it at school.”

“We are not doing fear…And, we are not going to go out and try to rile people up and try to act like people can’t live their lives as they’ve been normally doing because of something.

Look for more rational debate by governors and state health directors in the spirit of DeSantis and Dr. Ladapo’s approach in Florida along with less knee-jerk responses to go along with questionable, one-size-fits-all restrictions on life if proposed.  

With history as a guide, it will be the work of public health agencies to now bridge the fear gap between a subsection of the population, where the outbreak is predominately spreading, and install proper trauma into everyone. How will they do this? A quick look back into the failed Covid response can light the way. 

In March 2020, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) along with a scientific behavior group, advised the UK government on methods for pushing new social distancing rules on the public. Under the heading of ‘persuasion,’ here’s what was suggested:

As we just lived through, the methods to induce greater fear upon the population were used to horrific emotional and mental breaking points upon the population still unraveling today. The authors of the paper quickly confessed that what they did was wrong. 

Gavin Morgan, a psychologist on the team, said: “Clearly, using fear as a means of control is not ethical. Using fear smacks of totalitarianism. It’s not an ethical stance for any modern government. By nature I am an optimistic person, but all this has given me a more pessimistic view of people.” reported the Telegraph

The use of fear has definitely been ethically questionable. It’s been like a weird experiment. Ultimately, it backfired because people became too scared.” said a scientist serving on the group. 

Another member said: “You could call psychology ‘mind control’. That’s what we do… clearly we try and go about it in a positive way, but it has been used nefariously in the past.

Yet another scientist warned that “people use the pandemic to grab power and drive through things that wouldn’t happen otherwise… We have to be very careful about the authoritarianism that is creeping in”.

We must keep those warnings and painful reminders, from trusted public health experts, in the current context when framing the unfolding monkeypox response. 

How far will this go? Will public health attempt to use kids as ‘human shields’ again like they have during the Covid response? Last May, speaking to the Telegraph, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders freely admitted that using peer pressure on kids was their go to move to increase uptake…of a product that didn’t stop infection or transmission in an age group that had little to no chance of death from Covid. 

“…vaccinating children at school could result in higher take-up because pupils would not want to feel socially isolated by refusing to have the jab. The peer pressure of seeing that your friends are lining up to do it is likely to make the overall numbers taking up the vaccine higher”

Look for the media to tilt hard into the coming news cycles to highlight the stories of kids, pregnant women and anyone other than gay or bisexual men – the 98% makeup of the spread found by the New England Journal of Medicine’s study. 

A CDC media statement on June 9 specifically states that monkeypox can not spread in the following scenarios: 

Yet a recent People.com‘s article quotes an expert stating transmission is possible with “…any high touch items like money, doorknobs, shopping carts, have the potential for transmission…

During the Covid media hype, the idea of physical money already took an early hit despite the public being told the disease was a respiratory illness and studies showing virus transmission from contaminated surfaces was slim to none. Now, with a virus whose primary transmission happens by direct contact, how will the public respond if cash is spotlighted as a possible vector (despite being true or not)?   

The ‘Great Reset’ crowd is spearheading a switchover to digital currency. The World Economic Forum’s Digital Currency Governance Consortium aims speed the deployment of central bank digital currencies and stablecoins. Klaus wants it. And if Klaus wants it, you should probably think about being opposed to it.   

The U.S. took the world’s lead for monkeypox cases in late July and this is the spot it will most likely occupy for the remainder of the outbreak.

In a world where public health officials forced the isolated deaths of loved ones, masked kids for two years stunting their development, poured gasoline on the teenage mental health crisis, supercharged an opioid epidemic it will be a heavy lift to try and get the greater population to comply with any mandatory restrictions surrounding monkeypox.

Jefferey Jaxen

Jefferey Jaxen is a health journalist and featured in his weekly segment, ’The Jaxen Report’, on The HighWire. As an investigative journalist, researcher, and compelling writer, Jefferey serves as Lead editor of The HighWire News and Opinion Team.