Secretary Xavier Becerra

HHS Secretary's Trip to Mass. Postponed Due to Canceled Flight

The Health and Human Services Secretary was supposed to visit Leominster and Boston Friday, just one day after declaring Monkeypox a public health emergency

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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra's scheduled visit to the Bay State Friday has been postponed after his flight to Boston was canceled due to severe weather.

Secretary Becerra was scheduled to visit Leominster at 9 a.m. to discuss food insecurity, but that event has been postponed because of his canceled flight.

He was also scheduled to attend a roundtable discussion in Boston on abortion care and Black maternal health at 1:30 p.m., another event that was postponed.

Secretary Becerra has come under fire for not acting with enough urgency to combat the rapid spread of Monkeypox, including waiting three weeks to order bulk stocks of the monkeypox vaccine, which the U.S. government owns and stores in Denmark, and failing to access enough of the nation’s vaccine stockpile in the early stages of the spread in the U.S.

The secretary's canceled visit came one day after declaring Monkeypox a public health emergency.

The White House says this week's declaration is meant to strengthen and accelerate the administration’s response to the continued rapid transmission of Monkeypox in the U.S.

"That’s important because what that’s going to do is it’s going to help accelerate the vaccine production and distribution," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "This includes new dosing strategies that have the potential to increase the number of available doses by five-fold, so yes, the President has confidence in HHS.”

There are more than 6,600 cases nationwide, including 157 in the Commonwealth. That’s an increase of 42 cases locally in just the past week.

President Biden has also appointed a new National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator.

As the Monkeypox vaccine remains very limited across the country and in Massachusetts, HHS shipped an additional 266,000 doses of the vaccine this past week. There should be an additional 150,000 doses arriving in the U.S. next month.

Secretary Becerra’s office has said it will reschedule his events that were canceled Friday, but there have not been any new dates given.

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