UNITED STATES NEWS

President Biden announces COVID-19 emergencies to end May 11

Jan 30, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)...

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared.

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

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

Biden’s announcement comes in a statement opposing resolutions being brought to the floor this week by House Republicans to bring the emergency to an immediate end. House Republicans are also gearing up to launch investigations on 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. The emergencies have been repeatedly extended by Biden since he took office in January 2021, and are set to expire in the coming months. The White House said Biden plans to extend them both briefly to end on May 11.

“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 Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Statement of Administration Policy.

Congress has already blunted the reach of the public health emergency that had the most direct impact on Americans, as political calls to end the declaration intensified. Lawmakers have refused for months to fulfill the Biden administration’s request for billions more dollars to extend free COVID vaccines and testing. And the $1.7 trillion spending package passed last year and signed into law by Biden put an end to a rule that barred states from kicking people off Medicaid, a move that is expected to see millions of people lose their coverage after April 1.

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

Once the emergency expires, people with private insurance will have some out-of-pocket costs for vaccines, tests and treatment, while the uninsured will have to pay for those expenses in their entirety.

Legislators did extend telehealth flexibilities that were introduced as COVID-19 hit, leading health care systems around the country to regularly deliver care by smartphone or computer.

The Biden administration had 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 months until the expiration would mark a transition period where the administration will “begin the process of a smooth operational wind-down of the flexibilities enabled by the COVID-19 emergency declarations.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the announcement before it had been released.

More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. 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 bump over the winter holidays, and are significantly below levels seen over the last two winters — though the number of tests performed for the virus and reported to public health officials has sharply decreased.

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

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

United States News

A man uses a cellphone in New Orleans on Aug. 11, 2019....

Associated Press

Americans reporting nationwide cellular outages from AT&T, Cricket Wireless and other providers

A number of Americans were dealing with cellular outages on AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile and other service providers.

3 minutes ago

Associated Press

Guilty plea from the man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from an upstate New York park

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (AP) — A man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from a state park in upstate New York pleaded guilty to two felony counts and faces 47 years to life in prison. Craig N. Ross Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday under a plea deal to first-degree kidnapping and predatory sexual assault of a […]

7 minutes ago

FILE - Leslie Moonves attends the CBS Network 2015 Programming Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Cente...

Associated Press

LA ethics panel rejects proposed fine for ex-CBS exec Les Moonves over police probe interference

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission unanimously rejected a proposed settlement between the city and Les Moonves on Wednesday, saying a tougher penalty is warranted for the former CBS chief executive accused of interfering with a police investigation into sexual assault allegations against him. Moonves had agreed to pay an $11,250 […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer to begin in fatal film rehearsal shooting by Alec Baldwin

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys prepared to make opening statements Thursday at the first trial related to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal for the Western film “Rust.” Before Baldwin’s case progresses, the movie’s weapons supervisor is being tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Darryl George, a 17-year-old junior, before walking across the street to go into Barbers Hil...

Associated Press

Trial to determine if Texas school’s punishment of a Black student over his hair violates new law

ANAHUAC, Texas (AP) — A trial is set to be held Thursday to determine if a Black high school student in Texas can continue being punished by his district for refusing to change his hairstyle, which he and his family say is protected by a new state law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination. At issue […]

8 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

President Biden announces COVID-19 emergencies to end May 11