The three-year-long COVID-19 national emergency has now officially ended.
President Joe Biden signed the congressional resolution on Monday that ended the emergency declaration weeks before it was already set to expire, The Associated Press reported.
The original emergency allowed the federal government to respond to the virus as it spread and to help shore up the national economy, health and welfare systems as the world dealt with the unprecedented pandemic.
Then-President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the COVID-19 public health emergency on Jan. 31, 2020. Trump then declared the pandemic a national emergency in March 2020. They have been extended several times by Biden.
The national emergency was ended by Republicans using the Congressional Review Act which allows lawmakers to overturn regulations set by federal agencies with a simple majority vote, The Washington Post reported.
A White House official told the newspaper that “transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the covid response.”
Some of the systems put into place with the emergency declaration have already been phased out, while others were still in effect, including limitations on immigration between the U.S. and Mexico, which were set to expire on May 11.
The Biden administration said that as Congress worked to do away with the emergency declaration the executive branch worked to get agencies ready to return to normal operations. For example, The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s COVID-19 mortgage forbearance program ends in May and the Department of Veterans Affairs will once again require in-home visits to determine caregiver assistance eligibility, the AP reported.
Millions of beneficiaries of Medicaid are expected to lose their coverage in the near future. Five states already started purging their Medicaid rolls starting on April 1, removing people who no longer qualify or who have not given proof that they do, the Post reported. Most other states will start the process in the next two months.
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