President Biden to End COVID-19 Emergencies on May 11


President Joe Biden speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, after returning from an event in Baltimore on infrastructure.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)President Joe Biden speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, after returning from an event in Baltimore on infrastructure. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden briefed Congress on Monday that he will end dual national emergencies to address COVID-19 on May 11 as most of the world returned closer to normal nearly three years after they were declared for the first time.

The move to end national emergency and public health emergency declarations would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response to treat the virus as an endemic public health threat that can be managed through normal agency authority.

It comes as lawmakers have already ended the elements of emergencies that have kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic. Combined with the withdrawal of most federal funds for COVID-19, it would also move the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government.

Biden’s announcement comes in a statement opposing resolutions brought to the floor this week by House Republicans to end the emergency. House Republicans are also preparing to launch investigations into the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

Then-President Donald Trump first declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on March 13, 2020. Emergencies have been repeatedly extended by Biden since he took office in January 2021 and will expire in the coming months. The White House said Biden plans to extend both briefly to end May 11.

“An abrupt end to emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in an administrative policy statement.

Congress has already eased the scale of the public health emergency that has had the most direct impact on Americans, as political calls to end the declaration have intensified. Lawmakers have for months refused to meet the Biden administration’s request for billions more dollars to roll out free COVID vaccines and tests. And the $1.7 trillion spending package approved last year and signed by Biden ended a rule that prevented states from kicking people off Medicaid, a move that is expected to see millions lose coverage after the April 1st.

Costs of COVID-19 vaccines are also expected to skyrocket once the government stops buying them, with Pfizer saying it will charge up to $130 per dose. Only 15% of Americans received the recommended upgraded booster that has been offered since last fall.

Once the emergency is over, people with private insurance will have some out-of-pocket costs for vaccines, tests and treatments, while the uninsured will have to pay those costs in full.

Lawmakers have extended the flexibilities of telehealth introduced with the arrival of COVID-19, bringing healthcare systems across the country to routinely provide assistance via smartphone or computer.

The Biden administration previously considered ending the emergency last year but held off amid concerns about a potential “winter surge” in cases and to provide adequate time for providers, insurers and patients to prepare for its end. .

A senior administration official said the three-month deadline until the deadline will mark a transition period in which the administration “begins the process of gradually rolling back the operational flexibilities allowed by COVID-19 emergency declarations.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the announcement before it was released.

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

Case counts have trended downward after a slight increase over the winter holidays and are significantly below the levels seen over the past two winters, although the number of tests performed for the virus and reported to public health officials is significantly decreased.

Moments before the White House announcement, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., accused the president of unnecessarily extending the public health emergency to take action on issues such as forgiving some federal student loan debts.

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


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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