President Joe Biden signed a House bill on Monday that officially ends the COVID-19 national emergency, first enacted by the Trump administration in 2020. The national emergency was originally set to expire on March 1.
However, in February, the White House announced plans to extend the COVID-19 national emergency – as well as the public health emergency – until May 11. Shortly after the administration’s announcement, House Republicans put forth bills to end both emergencies immediately.
The White House originally voiced opposition to the Republican-backed bills, saying the resolutions “would be a grave disservice to the American people” and that an abrupt end to the emergency declarations would “create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system.”
However, the bill to end the national emergency cleared the Senate last month in a bipartisan 68-23 vote and passed the House earlier this year, with 11 Democrats crossing party lines to vote for the joint resolution. Biden signed the bill into law in the evening hours of April 10.
Termination of the national emergency ends some Federal health programs that came at the onset of the pandemic, but the larger impact will come with the termination of the public health emergency on May 11 – which will prompt complex changes in the cost of coronavirus tests and treatments.
Lifting the COVID-19 emergency is a sign that Federal officials believe the pandemic has moved into a new, less dire phase.
An average of more than 250 people in the United States are still dying from COVID-19 each day – over 1.1 million Americans have died since the start of the pandemic.
But at the three-year mark, the coronavirus is no longer upending everyday life to the extent it once did, partly because much of the population has at least some protection against the virus: nearly 70 percent of the nation is vaccinated against COVID-19.
The legislation that President Biden signed on April 10 ended only the COVID-19 national emergency and did not affect the COVID-19 public health emergency – which is currently still scheduled to expire on May 11, 2023.