“Covid is not over. The pandemic is not over,” said one of Biden’s top officials. “It makes no sense to remove it [declaration] Given what we see in terms of things on the ground. “
An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment, and people with knowledge of the matter cautioned that the situation could change before the Aug. 15 deadline to decide whether to extend the declaration.
The Biden administration has increasingly pointed to the availability of Covid vaccines and treatments as evidence that Americans who are vaccinated and immunized can live relatively safe lives against the virus. But even with this new stance, many administration health officials are wary of the message ending the public health emergency declaration would send at a time when the number of cases has topped 100,000 a day.
“It will end when the emergency is over,” one senior administration official said, summing up the domestic reaction to the declaration.
The emergency designation also provided authority that allowed the administration to more quickly expand access to Medicaid, greenlight vaccines and offer free tests and treatments. To end the emergency, that flexibility would have to be removed – a complicated process that hospital and public health groups have warned could hamper their ability to treat Covid patients.
The federal government has continuously updated the declaration since the first cases of Covid were reported in the United States in January 2020. And while HHS has promised to give states 60 days notice before the deadline expires, the administration has declined to lay out specific criteria for a phase-in. its extraordinary bodies.
However, the debate over the continuation of the declaration became more contentious. With vaccines and treatments widely available and no hope left that the administration can eradicate Covid, health officials have increasingly debated over the past few months when and what that phaseout should look like.
In the latest round of reviews, some officials said the declaration would expire in October, depending on the administration being successful in rolling out the next round of vaccines and avoiding a surge in cases, two people familiar with the matter said. Ending the emergency declaration this year could also provide a pre-election demonstration that the country has indeed entered a new phase in the fight against the pandemic.
But such a move would likely trigger a fierce pushback from the health care industry and invite criticism from public health groups on the front lines of efforts to fight the virus and vaccinate more Americans.
Some health officials also feared that officially ending the public health emergency would undermine the urgent need in Congress to allocate additional money for the Covid response. The administration’s request for billions of dollars more to boost stockpiles of vaccines, tests and treatments has stalled in the Senate for months, even as officials warn that funding shortfalls are hampering their ability to continue fighting the pandemic.
With a report by Erin Banko.
Biden administration plans to extend Covid emergency declaration
Source link Biden administration plans to extend Covid emergency declaration