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Federal COVID-19 public health emergency ends Thursday

Tracking COVID-19 numbers will no longer be conducted by state health departments and resources like free testing kits will no longer be available.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thursday marks the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. This means that many pandemic-era benefits and practices will officially start to go away. 

Tracking COVID-19 numbers will no longer be conducted by state health departments and resources like free testing kits shipped from the federal government will no longer be available as they have been over the past few years.

Those on Medicaid will continue to get free tests through September 2024 and Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said that ODH has maintained a sizeable supply of tests that they will continue to supply.

ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff provides update on the end of the public health emergency

For many health leaders and medical workers, this is pretty much what they've been waiting for. Dr. Mysheika Roberts with Columbus Public Health says the move is coming at the right time as we approach the summer months.

“Yes, it's coming at the right time particularly as we go into the summer months, which is when we know most respiratory viruses do decrease. We know a lot of people are outside, so I think this is the right time,” said Dr. Roberts.

She also says the pandemic was a reset for many of us when it comes to how we treat illnesses.

“I really think COVID-19 and the flu are the same in terms of how we treat it, how medical professionals and how public health professionals treat it now. I think that's been the biggest misunderstanding is that prior to this pandemic, when people were sick, they did not isolate,” she said.

Moving forward, if you are not immunocompromised and contract COVID-19, isolating for five days until your symptoms go away and you test negative is the standard practice.

As for vaccines, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the end of the health emergency will not impact their accessibility. Vaccines will remain free for all. 

Even after federal supplies diminish, Vanderhoff said people will not pay out of pocket for those vaccines.

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