Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Expires


Jordan Yanowitz, Staff Writer

Three years ago, on March 13, 2020, 333.9 million Americans’ lives were turned upside down as the Coronavirus was declared a national emergency. Now, on May 11, 2023, the COVID-19 public health emergency has concluded. This is a very exciting day for the nation, which has suffered under the pandemic for long enough. COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a national health emergency. But what does this entail? 

Although it practically feels as though COVID-19 has been over ever since school returned back to normal, and as a result of masks gradually disappearing from faces, there continue to be many changes that are to accompany the termination of the national emergency. To begin, vaccines and tests will no longer be given to the public for free but the traditional health insurance system will now regulate this business. Medicare will no longer pay for COVID-19 at-home testing or testing-related services/treatments, excluding oral antivirals. Group health plans will no longer need to cover COVID-19 testing costs. Additionally, as stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s action of collecting and sharing certain public health information will expire, but they will carry on sharing information that they deem as essential.

Numerous legislations enacted by Congress during the pandemic will also be expiring. These include the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The purpose of these acts were focused on containing health, economic, agricultural, and nutritional services. They aided people with services like paid sick leave and nutritional assistance. 

Now employers are modifying their businesses as they are beginning to focus on the new health benefits that they must provide their employees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, “the extensions of certain time frames for employee benefit plans are expected to end on July 10, 2023″. It is crucial to pay attention to these changes as a way of fully understanding what the end of this national emergency means for employment and employee policies. Businesses’ roles of covering services related to COVID-19 will no longer be mandatory, but they may still make the choice to provide these benefits. They must undertake the responsibility of providing new health benefits to replace the old ones.

We have come a long way since we first started quarantining in our houses and socially interacting solely through a screen. It can be emotional to recall these past three years of our lives, and the idea of this pandemic coming to a close truly feels like the end of an era. The class of 2023 started their freshman year journey when the pandemic first hit. Now, they’re graduating and leaving our school alongside the closure of the national emergency that immeasurably affected their lives. While the COVID-19 national emergency may be over, it is still imperative that we are still mindful of the virus and continue to use the tools developed over the course of the pandemic to protect ourselves and others.