COVID Emergency Declarations are Ending: What Does That Mean?
On March 13, 2020, the White House declared a national emergency to help address the growing global threat of COVID. More than three years later, the emergency declarations are ending. This does not mean COVID is “over” – but it does mean some major changes are coming. Keep reading to learn about the biggest impacts.
We will continue providing free COVID vaccines
You will still be able to get free COVID vaccines and boosters at our office clinic locations and in the community at our mobile clinics. These vaccines will continue to be free through Public Health, regardless of insurance status. You can also reach out to your healthcare provider or stop by your local pharmacy to find out what vaccination options are available.
There are still a lot of testing options
Our community COVID testing clinic at our Park Street location closed its doors on April 14. You can still buy tests in stores, pharmacies, and online. If you are sick and have private insurance or Medicare, your insurance should cover the test with a doctor’s referral. There are still some ways to get a free test:
- Say Yes COVID Home Test. You can order 10 free COVID tests a month from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services during April and May. Visit SayYesCOVIDHomeTest.org to order.
- US Postal Service. You can order 4 free COVID tests from the federal government, which are delivered via the US Postal Service. Visit special.usps.com/testkits to order.
- Area Libraries. You may be able to pick up COVID test kits from our community partners through the summer. Check with your local library to see if they have COVID tests in stock.
So, if someone tests positive for COVID, what do they do?
The answer to this question largely remains the same. Isolation guidance is not changing. However, we will no longer send individual surveys to people who test positive. Instead, we encourage everyone to fill out a form to let us know that you tested positive. Other forms of COVID-19 and communicable disease investigation will continue, and this may include case investigation and contact tracing. So it is possible you will hear from our team in the future.
If you need help or answers, call our main phone line at (608) 266-4821. You can also find the latest CDC guidance on isolation at publicheathmdc.com/sick.
The COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth service will continue through December 31, 2023. This program, run through DHS, provides free at-home COVID treatment, which can prevent people from getting seriously sick. You can either call or go online to access the state’s telehealth portal to find out if you’re eligible. After filling out some forms, they will be matched with a licensed clinician to see if any of the antiviral treatments are a good fit. Then, they can either be picked up at a pharmacy or delivered.
The COVID data dashboard is changing
The COVID data dashboard will focus on three key data elements: people who are hospitalized with COVID, people who died due to COVID, and the level of COVID in the wastewater. An archived version of the dashboard with historic data will be available. Also, the final COVID data snapshot of the season will be released in May.
We know what works to protect against COVID
The ending of these COVID emergency declarations does not mean COVID is gone. The CDC continues to recommend that everyone get vaccinated, get the latest booster, use an at-home test if you’re exposed or have symptoms, stay home if you’re sick, and wear a mask when COVID levels are high.