The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the COVID-19 state of emergency that was instituted in January 2020, Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Wednesday.
Becerra issued a statement saying the decision was “a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic” and was made “after consultation with public health officials as necessary.”
It was the 12th renewal of the emergency and is scheduled to last 90 days.
“There’s still a lot of Covid out there, and the public health emergency and his determination gives us tools to fight this,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, told CNN.
Jha stressed that the highly contagious XBB.1.5 variant was just one of the variants that prompted the decision, but it wasn’t the only reason.
“The secretary made a decision that the tools of the public health emergency are still necessary to continue to fight this virus,” Jha said.
Among the provisions of the public health emergency, it gives the federal government authority over data tracking and allowing pharmacists to give the vaccine.
CNBC reported that the emergency declaration has protected public health insurance, provided hospitals flexibility to respond to patient surges, and expanded telehealth.
Jha’s team hopes to reassure Americans that the public is better protected now because of the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
HHS: “Renewal of Determination That a Public Health Emergency Exists”
CNN: “Biden administration renews Covid-19 public health emergency”
CNBC: “Biden administration extends Covid public health emergency as highly infectious omicron XBB.1.5 spreads
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