By Mel Portela Gil
Covid-19 came like a tsunami, destroying millions of families, jobs, and communities. 6.8 million people have died since 2020. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic on March 11, 2020, Americans believed society would become the apocalyptic world of The Last of Us. However, United States President Joseph R. Biden plans to remedy the destruction of Covid-19. As stated by the White House on February 10, 2023, the Biden Administration intends to end the Covid-19 emergency on May 11, 2023. Our lifestyle from the 3-year-long pandemic will soon go back to normal. Well… not to the “normal” we had before.
The reversal comes a day after the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released the Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Transition Roadmap. According to the HHS, “…since the peak of the Omicron… at the end of January 2022: Daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92%… deaths have declined by over 80%, and… hospitalizations are down nearly 80%.” As the United States continues to fight against the coronavirus with rising vaccination rates and further education, the White House and HHS believe ending the Public Health Emergency will result in minimal damage.
After May 11, 2023, the HHS does not plan to end access to Covid-19 vaccines and services applied during the outbreak, including telehealth and opioid use disorder treatment. The HHS has seen medical services increase in rural areas from Medicare and Medicaid covering telehealth and the ease of reaching medical professionals during the pandemic. In early 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that increased access to methadone, a long-acting opioid agonist, “allowed [opioid addicts] to stay in treatment longer, supported recovery, and has not resulted in increases in methadone-related overdoses.”
However, the end of the Covid-19 emergency will hurt uninsured Americans by removing coverage for Covid-19 testing and the ability to detect clinical shortages for Covid-related supplies. According to the HHS, private insurance companies are no longer required to pay for covid-testing, although it is highly encouraged to continue the coverage for low-income Americans. During the Public Health Emergency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was notified of “interruption in the manufacture… that is likely to lead to… disruption in the [medical] supply…” The FDA warned all Americans of issues during the pandemic, but that will end unless Congress authorizes an extension to the requirement.
In comparison, progressive congresspeople such as Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY.) theorize lifting the public emergency will terminate Title 42, a 2020 health policy to “rapidly ‘expel’ migrants without a chance to seek U.S. asylum [from the southern border],” according to Politico News. Although the Biden administration has appealed to remove Title 42, federal courts have shot down these chances. The White House better start thinking because they only have two more months to make their game plan.
Queensborough Community College (QCC) faculty and students will be deeply affected due to the Biden Administration’s changes since New York City was a hotspot for Covid-19 cases as the pandemic grew. Ashlie Klepper, Communications professor at QCC, says she has no opinion due to a lack of knowledge. However, she understands the announcement’s impact on helping Americans’ worrisome psyche over the virus. Professor Klepper agrees with 10% of Morning Consult’s opinion poll. QCC Music Technology student, Sergine states she agrees with the decision to end the emergency. She sees the positives of socialization and in-person learning after the crisis ends on May 11, 2023, for the QCC community. However, Americans should “keep one eye open” for signs of Covid-19 resurfacing.