Biden administration set to extend COVID public health emergency: report

New York Daily News – by Theresa Braine

The Biden Administration is set to extend emergency measures that enable people to ward off or fight an infection with the novel coronavirus, according to a new report.

The public health emergency has been in effect, with extensions, since January 2020.

Besides providing access to Medicaid for millions of Americans who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible, the measures help clear vaccines, medications and diagnostic tools for use. An emergency declaration also makes telehealth services more accessible.

The declaration also boost pandemic-response funding, which has been ebbing as existing money is spent.

The emergency had been set to expire on July 15, according to Bloomberg, which reported the impending extension. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not return a request from the Daily News for comment.

A public health emergency declaration lasts for the duration of the emergency or for 90 days, with the possibility for extension, according to HHS. The federal government has promised states at least 60 days’ notice before letting it lapse.

Such a declaration also covers emergency use authorizations for drugs, vaccines and other pandemic-fighting tools at no out-of-pocket cost.

Republicans have been clamoring for the emergency declaration to end, but cases are again on the upswing in the U.S., driven by variations of the omicron variant. BA.4 and BA.5 are now dominant in the U.S. and specialize not only in skirting vaccinated immune systems but also are reinfecting people who have already been sick.

Since the pandemic was declared in early 2020, COVID-19 and its variants have killed more than a million people in the U.S.

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