The US will no longer consider COVID-19 a national emergency. What will happen to vaccines and free tests

By Zeke Miller and Amanda Seitz – Associated Press

President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that on May 11 he will end the two national emergencies to deal with COVID-19, as most of the world is living closer to normal nearly three years after which were declared for the first time.

The measure to end national emergency and public health declarations would formally restructure the federal response to the coronavirus, thereby the virus would be treated as an endemic threat to public health which can be handled through normal agency authorities.

It comes at a time when lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans covered by health insurance during the pandemic. Along with cutting off almost all of the federal funding for COVID-19 relief, it would also remove the administration of vaccines and treatments from the direct management of the federal government.

[Hay millones de niños en riesgo de perder su cobertura médica con el fin de la pandemia: aquí las claves para evitarlo]

Biden’s announcement is included in a statement opposing resolutions to be introduced this week by House Republicans who want an immediate end to the emergency. House Republicans are also preparing to launch investigations into the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

A COVID-19 testing center at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, January 9, 2023.
A COVID-19 testing center at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, January 9, 2023.Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Then-President Donald Trump first declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on March 13, 2020. Biden has repeatedly extended the emergencies since he took office in January 2021, and they are set to expire in the coming months. The White House said the president plans to briefly extend both so that they end on May 11.

“An abrupt end to emergency declarations would create widespread chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system: For states, for hospitals and practices, and most of all, for tens of millions of Americans,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in an Administration Policy Statement.

More than 1.1 million people in the United States have died of COVID-19 since 2020according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a number that includes about 3,700 last week.

[Las vacunas bivalentes de refuerzo reducen a la mitad el riesgo de contraer la subvariante XBB.1.5]

Congress has already mitigated the scope of the public health emergency that had the most direct impact on Americans, after political calls intensified to end the declaration.

For months lawmakers have refused to comply with the Biden government’s request to allocate billions more dollars to extend the period of free vaccines and diagnostic tests against COVID-19.

And the $1.7 trillion spending package passed last year and signed into law by Biden ended a rule that prohibited states from kicking some recipients out of Medicaid, a move expected to leave millions without coverage after the end of the year. April 1st.

The costs of the vaccines against COVID-19 they shoot once the government stops buying them, and Pfizer claims it will charge up to $130 per dose. Only 15% of people in the United States have received the updated recommended booster dose that has been offered since last fall.

Those with private insurance can expect to have to spend out-of-pocket for vaccines, especially if they go to a provider outside of their network, Levitt said. Free in-home trials will also no longer be offered. And hospitals will not collect additional payments for treating COVID-19 patients.

Lawmakers extended for another two years the flexibilities of telehealth that were introduced when the pandemic began, prompting health services across the country to regularly deliver care via smartphone or computer.

The government had already considered ending the emergency declaration last year, but did not do so out of fear of a possible “winter surge” in cases and to give providers, insurers and patients time to prepare for its end.

The officials indicated that the Administration will use the next three months to transition to the conventional health response system, warning that the immediate end of the emergency declaration “would sow confusion and chaos in this critical phase.”

[Imágenes satelitales de crematorios y funerarias en China dan indicios del número real de muertes por COVID-19]

“To be clear, the continuation of these emergency declarations through May 11 does not impose any restrictions whatsoever on individual conduct with respect to COVID-19,” the Administration said. “They do not establish mask or vaccine mandates. They do not restrict school or business operations. They do not mandate the use of any drugs or tests in response to COVID-19 cases.”

The case count has continued to decline after a slight rebound over the winter holidays, and is significantly below the levels of the past two years, although the number of tests carried out for the virus and reported to health authorities Public has fallen drastically.

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared that The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, despite the fact that a key advisory group of the agency determined that the pandemic could be approaching a “tipping point” in which higher levels of immunity could reduce virus-related deaths. China, for example, reported an unprecedented increase in December after lifting most of its COVID-19 restrictions.

Shortly before the White House announcement, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, accused the president of needlessly prolonging the public health emergency to take action on issues including the forgiveness of some federal student loan debt.

[La esperanza de vida en EE.UU. baja a 76.4 años y se hunde hasta los niveles de 1996 por el coronavirus y la epidemia de opiáceos]

“The country is largely back to normal,” Cole declared Monday, introducing a Republican-backed bill calling for an end to the health emergency. “Americans are back to work and school with no restrictions on their activities. It is time for the government to recognize this reality: the pandemic is over.”

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