White House is set to end COVID-19 emergencies from May 11

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Monday, January 30, President Joe Biden informed Congress that the twin national emergencies addressing COVID-19 would end on May 11, 2023, three years after they were first declared. This move signals a shift in the federal coronavirus response. The illness will be considered an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through normal agencies’ authorities.

As of now, lawmakers have already put an end to elements of the emergencies keeping millions of Americans insured during the pandemic. The drawdown of most federal COVID-19 relief money and the shift in the development of vaccines and treatments away from direct government management also highlight this change.

Biden’s announcement comes amid resolutions brought to the floor this week by House Republicans, calling for an immediate end to the emergency. House Republicans are also preparing to launch investigations on the federal government’s response to COVID-19. Former President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020. The pandemic was declared a national emergency by Trump in March.

President Biden has repeatedly extended the emergencies since taking office in January 2021 and plans to expand them briefly before ending on May 11. According to the Office of Management and Budget, ending the emergency declaration abruptly would cause widespread chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.1 million people have died from COVID-19 in the United States since 2020, including around 3,700 last week. Congress has already reduced the reach of the public health emergency that directly impacted Americans. Lawmakers have refused to fulfill the Biden administration’s request for billions of dollars to extend free COVID vaccines and testing.

Last year, the $1.7 trillion spending package ended a rule preventing states from kicking people off Medicaid. This will see millions of people lose their coverage after April 1. Once the emergency expires, costs of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to skyrocket, with Pfizer announcing it will charge up to $130 per dose. This could be a considerable expense to millions of people, as only 15% of Americans have received the recommended booster that has been offered since last fall.

President Biden’s announcement to end the COVID-19 emergencies on May 11 signals a shift in the federal response to the pandemic and restores a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. Despite this, the threat of the virus still looms, and hundreds of people continue to get affected by COVID-19 every day. The end of the emergencies may result in positive changes for Americans, but among the negative consequences is a potential rise in vaccine costs and the possibility of a massive winter surge.

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