New York, Europe Brief News – The US authorities will formally end two national emergencies declared to address the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11.
The decision will end the federal response to the virus as an endemic public health threat.
The announcement comes as legislators have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic. The change would also mean the response can be managed through public health agencies’ normal authorities.
The move, combined with the drawdown of most federal COVID relief money, would also shift the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar first declared a public health emergency in response to COVID on January 31, 2020 during the administration of then-President Donald Trump. In March 2020, Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency.
The measures have been repeatedly extended by Biden since he took office in January 2021. The Biden administration had previously considered ending the emergency last year, but held off amid concerns about a potential “winter surge” in cases and to provide adequate time for providers, insurers and patients to prepare for its end.
US legislators have already blunted many federal programmes related to COVID, refusing for months to fulfil the Biden administration’s request for billions more dollars to extend free vaccines and testing.