The Decatur Daily Democrat

President Biden to end COVID-19 emergencie­s on May 11

- ZEKE MILLER and AMANDA SEITZ Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencie­s for addressing COVID19 on May 11, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared.

The move to end the national emergency and public health emergency declaratio­ns would formally restructur­e the federal coronaviru­s response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal authoritie­s.

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-19 relief money, it would also shift the developmen­t of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government.

Biden’s announceme­nt comes in a statement opposing resolution­s being brought to the floor this week by House Republican­s to bring the emergency to an immediate end. House Republican­s are also gearing up to launch investigat­ions on the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

Then-President Donald Trump first declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on March 13, 2020. The emergencie­s have been repeatedly extended by Biden since he took office in January 2021, and are set to expire in the coming months. The White House said Biden plans to extend them both briefly to end on May 11.

“An abrupt end to the emergency declaratio­ns would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertaint­y throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantl­y, for tens of millions of Americans,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Statement of Administra­tion Policy.

More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 since 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including about 3,700 last week.

Congress has already blunted the reach of the public health emergency that had the most direct impact on Americans, as political calls to end the declaratio­n intensifie­d. Lawmakers have refused for months to fulfill the Biden administra­tion’s request for billions more dollars to extend free COVID vaccines and testing. And the $1.7 trillion spending package passed last year and signed into law by Biden put an end to a rule that barred states from kicking people off Medicaid, a move that is expected to see millions of people lose their coverage after April 1.

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