By Cara Murez and Robin Foster HealthDay Reporters
Monday, July 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) – In the wake of the latest Omicron oil spill cases in the United States, the Biden administration has extended the state of emergency in the country until mid-October.
Known as BA.5, the subvariant is considered the most contagious to date, and officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they expect an increase in hospitalizations.
CDC data shows that nearly half of the nation’s population lives in a state with a “Covid-19 Community Level,” where health care is at risk of being overwhelmed and sheltering-at-home is encouraged.
“The Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration continues to provide us with the tools and authorities necessary to respond to the people infected with COVID-19 that are circulating around the country,” the Biden administration said. CNN. “PHE provides the necessary and flexible capacity for hospitals to better care for patients, especially if we see a significant increase in hospital numbers in the coming weeks.”
The declaration also affects the testing and treatment that people can receive, which ends for some as soon as a state of emergency is declared.
Among these services are free COVID testing, treatment and vaccinations. Vaccines often continue to be free for those with Medicare and private insurance, according to CNN. Those enrolled in state Medicaid programs will have information designated by their states.
In times of health emergencies, Medicare has provided increased coverage and telehealth visits, leaving out those who live in rural areas. Subscribers can now access more health care services without leaving home than in the past.
Federal matching funds have also caused Medicaid residents to be intentionally unenrolled during health care. Up to 14 million people could lose their Medicaid coverage after the emergency ends, Kaiser and the Urban Institute estimate.
“Without PHE in place, we would have been limited in our ability to provide access to life-saving treatment through our Test-to-Treat process, for example, which relies on the flexibility of telecommunications and operations,” the HHS director said. CNN. “Not reforming PHE would leave us with less resources to respond and mean more Americans could get seriously ill and end up in hospital.”
In some states, low-income families also receive additional food benefits during times of health crisis.
A separate emergency declaration allows authorization for emergency use of testing, treatment and vaccination, CNN report. The deadline will be determined by the US Department of Health and Human Services with 60 days’ notice.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on COVID-19.