PENN STATE, Iowa (AP) — Penn State has declared a statewide pandemic because of an outbreak of new skin cancer and a lack of effective treatment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The state’s health department said it had detected the new skin cancers in at least 1,917 people and more than 1,200 have tested positive for the virus.
That means more than 6,400 people have been infected with the virus, it said.
“There are a lot of people who have already developed this disease, and we’ve seen it in the community and in our patients,” Dr. John Stahl, the department’s director of pandemic management, told reporters.
“We have to make sure we do everything we can to make the community better.”
The department says it’s treating the pandemic as a public health emergency, which means hospitals will have to close for at least one week.
It says patients and their caregivers will have the right to go home for up to 24 hours.
The agency says patients can get help with testing at its emergency treatment facility.
The agency says it will also provide emergency housing for the elderly.
State officials say people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting skin cancer, and it has found no correlation between the new cancers and the coronavirus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.