Today the World Health Organization declared the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This is a huge moment in our story arc of the fight against COVID-19. Here is what it does and does not mean. What this means The WHO
Unfortunately, we have learned almost nothing... and yet again, history repeats. Setting aside the absolute absurdity of politics and conspiracy theories we've endured for the past 3.5 years, those who knew better should and could have done many things to reduce transmission, improve indoor air quality, break down inequities of health care access, etc., but they chose not to for the "sake of the economy," while simultaneously actively disabling the workforce. History will not reflect kindly on how things were handled during the PHEIC and I do not expect things to improve moving forward. We are a species bent on mutal/self-destruction driven primarily by short-term greed. The damage done to "science" has been immense.
I love your posts and this is one point where I'll disagree with you (though I understand your reasoning). I did not agree with the ending of the USA's Public Health Emergency because of how many people it kicked of Medicaid, the access to testing, treatment, and vaccines that is now limited within our royally screwed up healthcare system, etc. Do those protections need to exist within "emergency declarations"? No. Should they? Not really, it would be better if they were incorporated into our actual healthcare system. But, alas, it's all we had. It proved that the government DID have the resources to take care of all N. Americans during a crisis, and COULD HAVE continued to do so. But, we ended the emergency and now millions of people have lost access to potentially life saving treatments and medical care.
Well, I never. I survived the public health emergency and got struck down with Covid on the last day. If only I could have just waited one more day, I could have avoided it altogether
Any chance you have an article on mask recommendations. We still mask indoors, but we are the only family in our area who does. Mask fatigue is real, but I don't want to suffer repeated infections. Thanks so much, Mary
As much as I love your posts, I do not agree with these decisions. I am immunocomprimised and am more afraid now than ever. Now I will be, and often am the ONLY person in my area wearing a mask. I have been ridiculed for this and fear it will get even worse now.
Imani Barbarin is a disability activist (Crutches and Spice on Instagram). She's called where we are at right now with COVID-19 a "global disability event." She's referencing all of the lingering and permanent physical and cognitive effects of COVID on untold millions of people. I have to for once disagree with your analysis, Katelyn. I think we have hardly begun to grapple with the "huge moment" that this is because we have yet to allow in the enormity of the long-term effects of COVID, even non-long COVID which can still have long-term impacts, especially on this generation of children.
"Thus passes Winter.". The full force of the storm may have passed over the horizon, but the wreckage remains..lives lost, businesses extinguished, social networks frayed or in tatters, an entire society destabilized at every level. And those who suffer the aftereffects in their own bodies, whose lives will be shortened. By our strenuous efforts we may have triumphed over the virus, but in the words of the ancient Pyrrhus of Epirus, 'Ne ego si iterum eodem modo vicero, sine ullo milite Epirum revertar."
"Another such victory and I am undone."
Thank you so much, Katelyn, for this and for all your hard work to keep us informed these last few years. As you've said, the pandemic is NOT over. Things will never be as they were in the "before times." I particularly appreciate these words of yours: "It’s beyond time to confront the threats to our individual and collective health so we are not in a constant state of emergency. We cannot keep living in a perpetual cycle of panic and neglect." Amen!!
Thank you for your updates. I have to go back over your other posts, if you have talked about excess deaths. It was about 40% in Ireland sometime last year I think. It's about 20% in the UK at the moment apparently. I am sad people who already have underlying conditions are left exposed with masks mandates gone from hospitals in Ireland. It's very nuts to me anyway.
If anyone would like to write their congressmembers on the end of traditional Medicare coverage for OTC rapid tests, feel free to crib from this language I sent today to my delegation:
230505: sent to Nadler, Schumer, Gillibrand re Medicare Discontinuance of Payment for OTC Rapid Tests
I have just received notice from Medicare that “After May 11, 2023, Medicare will no longer cover or pay for over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests.” (Our household is on traditional Medicare, to which this notice applies. Medicare Advantage is not an appropriate option for us.)
As you know, older people, many, if not most, of whom have additional comorbidities, remain most at risk from Covid, even if fully vaccinated and boosted, as we are. Our household also takes many extra precautions to avoid infections, such as wearing masks in public indoor settings. OTC rapid tests have been, and will continue to be, of critical importance to us so that we may be as safe from infection as possible, while retaining the ability at least to visit with friends and family in private indoor settings. Can you please advise what your office is doing and/or will do, to assure OTC rapid tests continue to be available to traditional Medicare recipients?
Thank YOU for all you've been doing to help us understand and cope. It's nice to know that the light at the end of the tunnel didn't turn out to be a train headed our way. And yes, indeed...let us hope we've learned something from this experience to better prepare us for the next one.
We are ultra careful. But many people are not, and they are looking for justification not to be careful any more if they ever were careful. Secondly, Dr. Fauci has said that he has repeatedly announced that it is the elderly who are most in danger. That is supposed to comfort all of those who are NOT elderly. But has this guy ever looked in the mirror? And if the people who are living with elderly parents, for example, are not extra careful, will they give their elderly relatives Covid and then be comforted by the thought that it Must Have Been Their Time?
I so appreciate your comment that "we deserve all the feelings today." Your post really hit home and brings me to a question. My husband, my 4-year-old, and I are taking a vacation next week. Yes, we are flying. My husband asked yesterday, "Do we have to wear masks when we fly?" [Imagine his contemptuous glare at me as he asks this over dinner]. To which I replied, "I don't think FAA is requiring masking anymore, but I would like to wear masks as much as possible, particularly in the airport." He begrudgingly accepted but...am I being overly cautious? Creature of a now-habit? We are all as up-to-date as our demographics allow with vaccinations but some part of me Can't. Let. Go. Appreciate any rationalization or advice!
Thank your for this. I don’t think I have truly grieved all our losses, including the life I led before the pandemic. It is a sobering and sad day. We have learned much, yet little has really changed. Our healthcare system is all about greed and not about our health, and so many people seem quite OK with that. Grieving today for all our losses.
Thank you, as always for your analysis.
Unfortunately, the population at large will interpret this declaration as “ Yay, it’s over!”.
As said by other posters, we should continue to support the compromised- whether immunologically, economically or socially- and above all, have strong support for long- Covid sufferers, many of whom are in their most productive years, and trying to raise their families. By support, I mean a comprehensive approach that includes access to treatments as they become approved, adjunct therapies, economic and social support.
In the US, how can this be achieved in our chaotic non- health care system?
Mega iron(Y) dose. At least 35 people tested positive for COVID-19 last week after the CDC's annual conference in Georgia where most people were not masking or social distancing. Now the CDC is investigating itself.