By Marin Wolf
Local health organizers are trying to raise at least $50,000 for a fund that aims to help Dallas residents struggling to meet their basic needs because of monkeypox infections.
The Monkeypox Relief Assistance Fund, launched by Dallas health nonprofit Abounding Prosperity Inc., will combat the economic implications of the monkeypox virus. An infection can last anywhere from two to four weeks, forcing people to take significant time off work.
The virus has disproportionately impacted Black, Latino and LGBT communities, with more than 34% of Dallas County’s 689 total cases occurring in Black individuals and nearly 20% occurring in Latino individuals. A majority of cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, although the virus can spread to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
“Solidarity efforts are not enough. The health and economic burden among Black and Brown LGBTQ+ communities in Dallas County and beyond is distressing,” said Kirk Myers-Hill, founder and CEO of Abounding Prosperity.
So far, the fund has raised just over $1,600 of its goal on a GoFundMe page. Dallas-based natural gas distribution company Atmos Energy will also contribute $2,500 to the fund.
New monkeypox cases in Dallas County have been declining since a peak of 25 new cases on Aug. 10, according to health department data. Still, for individuals who contract monkeypox, the virus can be devastating.
A monkeypox infection is typically accompanied by flu-like symptoms, followed by lesions that can spread throughout the body or stay confined to only a few locations. The lesions go through several stages, including becoming raised and liquid filled, before scabbing over and falling off. They can be incredibly painful, although monkeypox is rarely fatal.
“A lot of folks don’t realize that they do not have… the backing of their employer in order to be gone that long, because this isn’t COVID,” Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez said at the press conference announcing the relief fund.
Narvaez was one of three Dallas City Council members at the press conference, held at the HOPE Health and Wellness Center. The city is not financially supporting the fund, the council members confirmed.
Myers-Hill said at least one individual has contacted Abounding Prosperity about monetary assistance following a monkeypox infection that led to significant medical bills.
Earlier this week, Dallas Southern Pride announced the cancellation of Dallas’ upcoming Black Pride Weekend “out of an abundance of caution,” over the spread of monkeypox. The celebratory weekend-long event, scheduled for Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, was set to draw anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 attendees.
The decision to cancel the event was also made to bring attention to vaccination opportunities for Black and Latino members of the LGBT community, said Myers-Hill, who also serves as president of Dallas Southern Pride.
Vaccinations are available for qualifying individuals through the county health departments and a handful of community health partners, including Abounding Prosperity. While vaccinations have previously been in short supply, the county currently has more than enough doses for eligible groups, said the county’s top health official Dr. Philip Huang.
Abounding Prosperity’s vaccine clinic is at HOPE Health and Wellness Center at 1619 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dallas from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month, while supplies last.