The Virginian-pilot on how the fight against COVID is not finished:
COVID-19 kills 500 Americans a day and in 2022 it was the third-leading cause of death, after cancer and heart failure, for the third consecutive year. An untold number of people suffer long-term health complications as a result of infection, the effects of which we still do not know. And the coronavirus is now the eighthleading cause of death among young people aged 0-19.
Despite all of that, President Joe Biden’s administration announced last week that it would allow the COVID national emergency and public health emergency declarations to expire in May. That came in response to two bills pending in the Republicanled House that would end both declarations immediately . ...
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the declaration empowered Washington to “waive or modify certain requirements in a range of areas, including in the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs, and in private health insurance.” It also enabled the rapid deployment of “medical countermeasures and to provide liability immunity to providers who administer services.”
The expiration of the health emergency, which Biden said would happen on May 11, will sunset many of those provisions. It will end of continuous Medicaid coverage, which according to KFF will mean between 5.3 million and 14.2 million people lose their insurance, primarily adults who received coverage under Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion, adults with disabilities and children . ...
Congress did take crucial steps in recent months to provide funding for a host of pandemic-related products and services, from free at-home tests to coverage for treatment and antivirals. Plenty of Americans, especially those at greatest risk from infection, still lean on those measures, but that money will run out and it’s clear Republicans leading the U.S. House have no intention of providing more.
The nation is far better equipped and prepared than at any point in the pandemic, primarily thanks to the vaccines. So much more is known about COVID and there are effective treatment options for those who catch it. But ending the emergency declarations could make it harder to insulate the most vulnerable and care for the suffering.
We all want the pandemic to be over, but wishing won’t make it so. Washington should continue its fight to save American lives instead of throwing in the towel.