U.S. Plans To End Public Health Emergency for COVID-19

January 31, 2023

At present, the Administration’s plan is to extend the [COVID-19] emergency declarations to May 11, and then end both emergencies on that date.

The White House in a statement on Monday, announcing its plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency and national emergency in May.

Context: On the eve of two votes in the U.S. House of Representatives (now controlled by Republicans) on measures that would immediately end the COVID-19 public health emergency and national emergency, the White House released a statement detailing its current plans to end the COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11. The statement included the administration’s reasoning for ending the emergency in about three months:

  • First, they argued that “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.”
  • Second, they noted that ending measures will also end the use of Title 42, a public health emergency policy used at the border. The White House said the admin “supports an orderly, predictable wind-down of Title 42, with sufficient time to put alternative policies in place.”

Why It Matters: The end of the emergency declarations will mark a shift in the way COVID-19 is handled by the U.S. government. For example, during the emergencies, the Biden admin has been providing funding for things like COVID-19 tests, vaccines, etc. Once the emergency ends, this funding will halt, especially impacting those without insurance (depending on people’s types of coverage, they may still have to pay out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19-related care).

  • Meanwhile, the author of the bill which would end the public health emergency, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), says he hopes the House will continue with its vote on Tuesday: “I think we should go forward. If for some reason they don’t do it on May the 11th, the vehicle is still there for Congress to take back its authority.”

U.S. Plans to End Public Health Emergency for Covid in May (The New York Times)

President Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies on May 11 (The Associated Press)

The White House’s Statement

by Jenna Lee,