Understanding the end of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency | WUWM 89.7 FM

Earlier this month, the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended, which means the federal and local governments will have to take a new approach to mitigating the virus. A former spokesperson for the Federal Department of Health and Human Services says it’s important for people to know that while the public health emergency has gone away, the virus has not.

Bill Pierce served in the George W. Bush administration under Health and Human Services Secretary and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. He now teaches crisis communication at Johns Hopkins.

Pierce explains that a public health emergency allows the Department of Health to take sweeping actions designed to aid the general public in staying safe and healthy. Now that the status is lifted things like the Covid-19 tests and vaccines that were free of charge may longer be automatically offered at no cost. That doesn’t mean that services will immediately stop being covered because the government still has funds set aside. However, Pierce says those funds will eventually be used up.

Considering the residual funds the government still possesses and the fact that almost all vaccines are covered by insurance, it’s unlikely that someone will suddenly have no way to get vaccinated. However, Pierce advises people to inquire from their insurance directly what Covid-19-related services will be covered moving forward.

Despite the end of the emergency status, Pierece says Covid-19 is still dangerous to vulnerable populations and recommends using discretion about masking and social distancing.

“We’re still seeing hundreds of deaths a day from COVID-19. It is really starting to focus on the elderly, overweight [and] people with diabetes. Unfortunately, there are social groups that have higher incidences of those things, so, you know, among African Americans, Hispanics, etc. Those are the things which aren’t going to change,” Pierce says.

Pierce says one way to stay diligent in preventing Covid-19 outbreaks is continuing workplace flexibility. “Before the pandemic, too many people showed up at work, not feeling well. And [the pandemic] may have told us that that’s not a good idea. And it also, more importantly, may have helped some of our industries and companies reevaluate that point,” says Pierce.

Pierce says a better understanding of how public health information is gathered and distributed will be beneficial in the future. He says that complex health issues like Covid-19 are continually developing and the way new information is communicated can either build or break down trust. “They know and understand why on Monday our scientific communicators may say ‘X,’ but on Friday they may say ‘X and Y’ — not because they were not telling us the truth. Facts change and maybe we got some new scientific information, and therefore, now we’re telling you what we know now,” says Pierce.

More information on the end of the public health emergency status can be covid-19-public-health-emergency.html” class=”Link”>found here.

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