CHICAGO (CBS) — As monkeypox spreads, the Chicago Department of Public Health is hoping more vaccine doses get to Chicago soon.
On Friday, crews were setting up everything from stages and kiosks to handwashing stations along Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue and Addison Street. Come Saturday, that stretch of Halsted Street will be blocked off – and packed with people.
While monkeypox can affect anyone, most cases in Chicago and beyond have involved men who have sex with men, or MSM. At Market Days – which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in the country’s first recognized gay village and an LGBTQ+ historic Chicago landmark – safety is top of mind.
Chicago’s top doctor said the spread of monkeypox is low for folks just walking around enjoying the festival – and one longtime Lakeview resident said people know how to protect themselves. They just need to do it.
“The kind of behaviors I’m choosing to engage in during Market Days are I’m going to perform on a stage, and I might walk around the festival,” said Richard Streetman. “I’m not – my choice – I’m not going to be dancing with my shirt off, and I’m not going to be having any kind of intimate contact with someone I don’t know.”
Streetman has been going to Market Days since 1998 – the year he moved to Chicago. At 4 p.m. Saturday, he will sing on the Chicago Sound Stage at Halsted Street and Aldine Avenue for his second straight year.
Streetman says while concern about monkeypox is high, understanding how the virus is most often transmitted – through intimate contact or any direct contact with a rash, scab, or bodily fluid – is the first step in stopping the spread.
“We need to go into the same behavior we went into after we discovered HIV/AIDS; discovered how it was transmitted,” Streetman said.
According to the city’s Public Health Department, as of Thursday, about 22,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine had been distributed across the city. The city also got a shipment of 13,000 doses Thursday, and over the next four to six weeks, is expecting to receive about 20,000 more.
Data show right now, Illinois has recorded the third highest number of cases in the country – behind New York and California. The majority of those cases in Chicago and among men who have sex with men, according to the city’s Public Health department.
The city does have what it calls an MPV Plan – which involves monitoring cases, providing resources and education, and vaccinating those at highest risk.
So far, vaccinations have been limited. Demand for the vaccine for monkeypox continues to outpace supply in many parts of the country – of which the city’s Department of Public Health says Chicago is one.
Streetman says he considers himself very lucky, as he was able to get the first dose of the monkeypox vaccine at a clinic on the city’s West side last week. He says he was eligible because one of his best friends tested positive for Monkeypox.
“I got in line,” Streetman said. “I was one of the last people that day and I stood there for an hour, but it was worth it because I was able to get a shot.”
The Chicago Department of Public Health said as of 10 a.m. Friday, 9,147 doses of the monkeypox vaccine had been administered.
Currently, a total of 507 monkeypox cases have been reported in the city, up 29 cases from 478 on Thursday.
There are 603 cases in Illinois, up 32 from Thursday’s 571, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Chicago cases make up 84% of all cases so far, and 90% of new cases on Friday.
By community area, Lakeview, Uptown, and Edgewater have the most cases in the city, followed by Rogers Park, Logan Square, and the Near North Side.
The city’s Public Health Department plans to be on site at the entrances of the Market Days festival to pass out information about the virus.