Tuesday, February 7, 2023

USA: Government extends health emergency due to COVID-19

The Joe Biden administration announced on Thursday that the COVID-19 public health emergency would continue through January 11, 2023, at a time when cases are expected to increase over the winter.

The decision comes a month after the pandemic has already faded from the minds of many. Daily deaths and infections are falling and people – many without masks – are returning to schools, work and shops as they used to.

The public health emergency, initially declared in January 2020 and renewed every 90 days, has drastically changed the way health services are delivered.

The declaration allowed the emergency authorization of vaccines, clinical trials and treatments against COVID-19, free of charge. Expanded Medicaid coverage for millions of people, many of whom may lose coverage after the emergency ends. It temporarily opened access to telemedicine for Medicare beneficiaries, allowed doctors to charge the same fee for those visits, and encouraged health networks to adopt telemedicine technology.

Since the beginning of this year, Republicans have been pressuring the government to end the public health emergency. Biden, for his part, has urged Congress to provide billions of additional dollars to help pay for coronavirus vaccines and clinical trials. The federal government last month stopped sending free tests by mail, saying it had run out of funding.

Public health officials are urging people age 5 and older to get a booster dose of the vaccine, along with the flu vaccine, this fall, before cases of COVID-19 are projected to rise, and heavily Flu season is about to come. White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said that as of last weekend, about 13 million people had received the updated booster, which fights the Omicron variant.

The federal government says it will issue 60 days’ notice before ending a public health emergency.

Nation World News Desk
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