USA: Government extends health emergency due to COVID-19

WASHINGTON (HPD) — The administration of President Joe Biden said Thursday that the COVID-19 public health emergency will continue through Jan. 11, 2023, at a time when cases are expected to spike in the winter. .

The decision was made known in a month in which the pandemic has already disappeared from the minds of many people. Daily deaths and infections are falling and people — many of them without masks — are returning to schools, work and stores as they used to.

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

The declaration allowed the emergency authorization of vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments against COVID-19 free of charge. Expanded coverage of the Medicaid program to millions of people, many of whom could lose it once the emergency is over. It temporarily opened up access for Medicare beneficiaries to telemedicine, allowing doctors to charge the same fees for those visits and encouraging health networks to adopt telemedicine technology.

Since the beginning of this year, Republicans have been pushing 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 vaccines and diagnostic tests for the coronavirus. The federal government stopped sending free tests by mail last month, saying it had run out of funds for it.

Public health authorities are encouraging people 5 years and older to get their booster dose of the vaccine, along with the flu, this fall, before COVID-19 cases are predicted to increase, and there is a heavy flu season. As of last weekend, some 13 million people had received the updated booster, which combats the omicron variant, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said.

The federal government says it will issue a 60-day notice before ending the public health emergency.

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