Health experts share how the COVID-19 public health emergency ending may impact you

Doctors said just because the emergency is over, that does not mean COVID is gone for good.
Doctors say just because the emergency is over -- that does not mean covid is gone for good.
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Now that the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended, you may be asking how it directly impacts you.

Doctors said just because the emergency is over, that does not mean COVID is gone for good.

“We are in a much better place seeing significantly reduced cases, hospitalizations and deaths, so we’re in a much better place but I do think it’s important to emphasize that we do need to continue to be cautious,” Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 Unit Lead Heather Harmon-Sloan said.

Harmon-Sloan said this phase will bring some change, and tests will still be provided through programs at public schools and libraries, while supplies last.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:

  1. Under traditional Medicare, at-home tests will no longer be free.
  2. If you have Medicaid and CHIP, tests are free until September 2024
  3. For private insurance, free at-home tests are no longer guaranteed, and you’ll probably owe the doctor something like with any lab work.
  4. If you have no insurance, you’ll pay out of pocket for all tests.

“Although the emergency part of the pandemic is over and the emergency has ended, the response has not and so both public health and our health care partners will continue to work in this response to ensure the health of Virginians,” Harmon-Sloan said.

Tests will be provided through schools and libraries, Harmon-Sloan says it is important to note that VDH provides tests to its partners for use within the community. This is not limited to these two programs. They are used to help ensure we are targeting vulnerable populations at higher risk of severe disease.

Everyone should stay up to date on vaccines for the best protection, Harmon-Sloan said. Vulnerable populations, those over 65 years of age and those who are immune compromised may get a second mRNA Vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for additional protection.

The vaccine is free until it goes to commercialization, however, it is still free at this time and we will need to review again at that time.

The federal government will continue to offer four tests per household until the end of May.