WORLD White House says US Covid emergency status to end May 11


White House says US Covid emergency status to end May 11


07:56, January 31, 2023

The White House said Monday that the national and public health emergencies declared just as the Covid-19 pandemic took grip three years ago will officially end May 11.

File photo: AFP

The end to both federal emergency declarations, which took effect in January 2020 under then-president Donald Trump, will see funds used to subsidize Covid medicines, medical insurance and other types of government aid related to the pandemic come to an end.

In practice, part of these government assistance programs has already dried up due to opposition from Congress.

The remaining debate is largely political, with Republicans who control the House of Representatives preparing bills that would seek to end the national emergency on March 1 and the public health emergency on April 11.

In a statement, the White House said that such abrupt cancelations of the two emergencies would have "highly significant impacts on our nation's health system and government operations."

This would include "chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system."

"Hospitals and nursing homes that have relied on flexibilities enabled by the emergency declarations will be plunged into chaos without adequate time to retrain staff and establish new billing processes," the statement said.

Another reason for a 60 day notice period through to May is to give the government time to prepare for the impact of lifting the emergencies on immigration at the troubled US-Mexican border, the statement said.

A rule known as Title 42, currently in place to allow swift expulsion of undocumented migrants, is legal only because of the health emergency. Ending the emergency "precipitously" will "result in a substantial additional inflow of migrants."

The White House says it wants to end Title 42 and replace it with a different legal mechanism for controling the flow of would-be immigrants, but that it needs time to do this.

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