The political and public health ramifications of the end of the national COVID-19 emergency | News

Nearly three years after its creation, the Biden administration intends to end the national emergency and public health emergency statuses for COVID-19. The decision reflects both the evolving state of the virus and political realities.

Under ongoing emergency declarations and federal funding, millions of Americans have had access to vaccines and testing. The pandemic state of emergency has resulted in increased availability of telehealth and new Medicaid and Medicare flexibilities regardless of insurance. Most of these benefits are due to expire with the end of the national state of emergency in May.

Therefore, this federal resolution will also affect local governments.

At the local level, our response activities are impacted not only by changes to federal emergency provisions, but also by the broader shrinking funding landscape and the inability to continue funding response and preparedness activities. to COVID”, Sharon Bogan, the communications specialist for public health – Seattle and King County, said.

This lack of funding is expected to impact the development of new generations of vaccines, the purification of indoor air quality and health communication capabilities, according to Bogan. More importantly, a lack of accessibility will have a compounded impact on marginalized communities and expose the mosaic of a national public health system facing the United States.

While new subvariants of the omicron variant continue to emerge and the national death rate remains around 450 people per week, the pandemic is still ongoing.

The expiration of the federal coronavirus public health emergency in May is an administrative measure and does not mean the pandemic is over,” Bogan said. “We continue to be vigilant, even as we enter the final phase of this pandemic with lower mortality.”

In reality, the decision to end these measures may come down to political maneuvering ahead of a potentially contentious presidential election cycle. In the 2020 election, for example, the issue was a hot topic.

“One of the main arguments Democrats made was to follow the science,” said Jonathan Beck, a professor in the Department of Law, Corporations and Justice. “It’s impossible that he’s really 100% on the science. Politicians are not scientists.

The same week that the Biden administration announced the end of the emergency declaration in May and the subsequent transition from pandemic to endemic, the World Health Organization announced that the pandemic should continue to be treated as a pandemic.

Changing the classification of the COVID-19 outbreak to endemic raises concerns about keeping people up to date on their vaccinations, such as the number of people choosing to opt out of the recommended annual flu shot.

The timing of this decision coincides with the presidential election. In less than a year, a new round of presidential elections will loom in the United States with Joe Biden as incumbent president.

“It wouldn’t be a good idea to go into an election year with federal emergency declarations still present,” Beck said. “Democrats want to be able to say they’ve ended the pandemic.”

Contact contributing editor Bella Distante at [email protected] Twitter: @belladistante

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The political and public health ramifications of the end of the national COVID-19 emergency | News

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