The Biden administration said Monday it plans to end the country’s COVID-19 public health emergency in May, more than three years after the virus first began circulating in the United States.
The White House plans to renew the existing emergency declaration one more time before it expires on May 11, allowing local governments and health care providers to transition back to pre-pandemic operations and avoid the confusion caused by the declaration’s abrupt end. In a public health emergency, programs like Medicare and Medicaid can provide additional funding to states to address pandemic-related care. Millions of Americans have been able to get free COVID-19 testing, and many have been able to get virus-related treatment without copays.
The state of emergency has been renewed every 90 days since first declared by the Trump administration in 2020, with the most recent renewal date being January 11.
The White House spokesperson’s office warned that “the abrupt end of the emergency declaration will cause widespread disruption and uncertainty across the health care system for states, hospitals, doctors’ offices and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans.” Management and Budget said in a statement. “If PHE were to shut down suddenly, it would sow chaos and chaos in this important disruption.”
End of public health emergency also ends controversial Title 42 border policy that allows governments to deport foreign nationals and restrict asylum seekers from entering the United States
This plan is a sign that the federal government is ready to return to normalcy. Many Americans are now vaccinated, including boosters, and the country has broad access to updated immunizations and treatment regimens that dramatically reduce the risk of death and serious illness related to the virus.
Even so, an average of more than 500 people die from COVID-19 every day in the United States.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic remains a global health emergency but may change its declaration in the near future as the virus nears an “inflection point”.
“We expect that next year the world will turn to a new phase, reducing hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible levels,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.