Biden Ends Covid Emergency Status

President Biden will end the U.S.’s Covid emergency status on May 11. It marks a major step meant to signal that the crisis era of the pandemic is over. It comes nearly three years after the United States imposed sweeping pandemic measures to curb the spread of the illness.

The COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) were put in place in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump. Biden has repeatedly extended the measures, which allow millions of Americans to receive free tests, vaccines, and treatments.

Biden told Congress Monday that the U.S. will end its national emergency and public health emergency declarations for Covid. 

The government has been paying for Covid vaccines, some tests, and certain treatments under the PHE declaration. When it expires, those costs will be transferred to private insurance and government health plans.

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 relief money, it would also shift the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government.

The move will end a ton of federal dollars going toward the pandemic. That could mean boosters are no longer free and tests are about to get more expensive. 

The White House disclosed its plan in response to two House Republican measures aimed at immediately ending the emergencies, calling those proposals “a grave disservice to the American people.”

The Biden administration said to immediately ending the measures would create “wide-ranging chaos” for hospitals and doctors.

Lifting the health emergency could also mean ending directives known as Title 42, a health policy reinstated during the Trump administration in March 2020 at the beginning of the Covid pandemic and used to shut down the southern border. 

The authority gave border officials the ability to rapidly “expel” migrants without a chance to seek U.S. asylum. Migrants were expelled from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico. 

The Biden administration’s attempts to end Title 42 have been repeatedly blocked by the courts, most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily keep the policy in place. 

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