WASHINGTON — There was no celebration, as there was two years ago, when President Biden declared on Independence Day that independence from the coronavirus was at hand. There was no flaring of vaccination cards on South Lawn, no ceremonial throwing of face masks in Times Square.
instead of, A national emergency declared by President Trump on March 13, 2020quietly ended after 1,124 days, with a notice Monday night from the White House announcing that Biden had signed a resolution End the emergency.
The bill signed by Biden originated in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives but also It passed in the Senate with the support of 11 Democrats. The measure was pointless, the White House said, because the president was preparing to end the national emergency and the public health emergency. However, a spokesperson said he would sign the law.
And so, on Monday, he did.
The president did so without ceremony. On other occasions, he has sought to highlight bipartisan legislation. But not this time. Instead, he was eager to take things further, putting the virus in his rearview mirror.
The next day, he was heading to Ireland, his ancestral home.
Biden’s move was largely symbolic, as the national emergency has had little impact on how hospitals and doctors operate (emergency declaration Mostly it relates to exemptions for hospitals and health systems).
A parallel health emergency is set to expire next month. Cut federal funding for some public health measures, including the cost of diagnostic tests and vaccines. Gene Keats of the Kaiser Family Foundation He explained to CNN.
New restrictions It will be imposed on telehealth, a practice that exploded at the start of the pandemic. An estimated 15 million will also lose Medicaid coverage, although most who are not enrolled must qualify for Medicare through the Affordable Care Act.
Officially, the coronavirus will cease to be a “pandemic” when the World Health Organization (WHO) drops the classification. There are now clear guidelines for doing this, but it is clear that the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, is moving in this direction. “I am confident that this year we will be able to say that COVID-19 has ended as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” he said in a deposition last month.
Next month will also see the dissolution of the White House Epidemic Response Team, which were briefed to reporters several times each week. There has been no briefing for months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, once the president’s top pandemic advisor, is now retired. Jeff Zients, who led the pandemic response team, is now the White House chief of staff.
This is not an epidemic truly More than that, with about 120,000 people across the United States contracting the coronavirus each week and about 1,700 dying each week from the disease, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We need to be very clear, just because the national emergency around COVID is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean that COVID is no longer an ongoing threat,” public health expert Dr. Lena Wen told Yahoo News. “There are many other diseases that are not considered pandemics, but are very serious — including communicable diseases like HIV and influenza and non-communicable diseases like heart disease and cancer.”
For the supporters of the billions who poured into federal relief efforts during the first two years of the pandemic, ending the two emergency declarations reflects the loss of essential support for people and communities devastated by the coronavirus.
Some public health officials charge that the Biden administration stopped taking the coronavirus seriously once the cost of doing so became prohibitive. They caution against being overconfident about what the future might hold. Then there are the millions suffering from the debilitating and poorly understood set of symptoms known as long COVID, which looms as a public health challenge in its own right.
“The need for active management of the virus continues. Many believe the pandemic ended in the spring of 2021,” Julia Reifman, a professor of public health at Boston University, told Yahoo News. “Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the new variants, and we lost hundreds of thousands of lives in the following months.” . By actively tracking COVID, continuing to work to help people get vaccinated and boosted, and having policies and supplies ready to deal with new variants, we can help ensure such high preventable losses are never seen again.”
Even the most cautious Democratic governors dropped pandemic-related restrictions near the start of 2022, sensing a shift in public mood that could have electoral consequences.
If the administration still has a comprehensive pandemic policy in place, the “tools” needed to combat the coronavirus — masks, tests, treatments, and vaccines — are widely available, to be used at Americans’ discretion. Many old and frail people continue to hide their faces. The booster shots are expected to become an annual ritual. Earlier surges left many families with a stockpile of tests, to be deployed at the first sign of a new infection.
But this is all a matter of choice now – and has been for some time.
For critics, extending the states of emergency until 2023 was little more than a way to perpetuate excessive government spending for as long as possible. “The pandemic is over and has been around for quite some time,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin. a permit She accused the Biden administration of “massive abuses of executive power” that allowed the expenditure of “massive amounts of taxpayer money.”
Trump has spent billions on coronavirus relief, too, but capitalized, albeit briefly, on widespread concerns about the damage the coronavirus might do: how many people it would kill, how many workers it would leave without jobs.
By the time the 2020 presidential election approaches, the coronavirus has become the sharp-edged political and cultural issue it may have always been destined to become in a country as divided as the United States. Biden’s massive coronavirus relief bill has received no support from Republicans in Congress. At every level of government, mask and vaccine mandates have become the subject of intense courtroom battles, with the president growing angry at Republican rebellion against what was widely believed at the time to be sound public health policy.
The records of governors and presidents, as well as physicians and public health experts, will likely be dissected for years to come, even as most people return to normal. Last year, Brown University economist Emily Oster, who has written extensively about the coronavirus, proposed a “pandemic amnesty” that would allow for a measure of mercy for all the mistakes and lapses made in the midst of the crisis.
“Let’s acknowledge that we’ve made complex choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to rebuild and move forward,” I wrote. But the intense response her argument has received suggests that even as masks are removed and vaccine cards fade, bitterness over the way the US handled one of its worst crises will linger.
Much of this calculus will start with Biden’s predecessor in the Oval Office. Three years after the national emergency ended one day, Trump entered the White House press conference room, for what was, at the time, One of his periodic updates to the nation and the press.
As he has from the start, Trump has highly praised his administration’s response. “We are saving more lives than we could have,” Trump said.
Referring to a recent estimate of coronavirus deaths, Trump predicted that the total number of American deaths from COVID-19 would be “well below 100,000.”
Until now, the epidemic killed 1.1 million Americans.