Biden Administration Plans to End Covid Public Health Emergency in May


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration plans to let the coronavirus public health emergency expire in May, the White House said on Monday, a sign that federal officials believe the pandemic has moved into a new, less dire phase.

The White House wants to keep the emergency in place for several more months so hospitals, health providers and health officials can prepare for a host of changes that will come when it ends, officials said. Millions of Americans have received free Covid tests, treatments and vaccines during the pandemic, and not all of that will continue to be free once the emergency is declared over.

An average of more than 500 Americans are still dying daily from Covid. But at the three-year mark, the coronavirus is no longer upending everyday life to the extent it once did, partly because much of the population has at least some protection against the virus from vaccinations and prior infections.

Still, the White House said on Monday that the nation needed an orderly transition out of the public health emergency. The administration said it also intended to allow a separate declaration of a national emergency to expire in May.

“An abrupt end to the 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 White House said in a statement.

The announcement came just a day before the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that would immediately end the public health emergency. The bill, called the Pandemic Is Over Act, is one of several pandemic-related measures that the Republican-controlled chamber is scheduled to consider this week.

The Biden administration has renewed the public health emergency every 90 days, and it had pledged to alert states 60 days before ending it. It last renewed the public health emergency this month, and the declaration is set to expire in mid-April. The administration now plans to extend it for an additional month before allowing it to lapse in May.

Ending the emergency will trigger complex changes in charges for Covid tests, vaccines and treatments that Americans are accustomed to getting for free. Their costs will vary depending on whether they have private insurance, Medicare coverage, Medicaid coverage or no health insurance. What state they live in could also be a factor.

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