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2/9/23 – What is The COVID National Emergency Declaration?

Last updated: March 2, 2023

Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. Last week the federal government announced that the COVID national emergency declaration will end in May, so today let’s talk about what that means.

What is the COVID National Emergency Declaration?
The COVID national emergency declaration has been in place since 2020. It allowed our country to rapidly address the pandemic crisis. When the state of emergency ends in May, the programs and policies that were put into place due to the emergency declaration, will expire. As we learn more about the impact of the changes in terms of cost, insurance coverage, and access, we’ll share it with you.

Does this mean COVID is over?
No, Covid is not over. Ending the COVID emergency declaration means that we’re entering the next phase of managing Covid. People are still getting sick with Covid, and it’s here to stay. We now have a broad range of tools including surveillance, education, vaccines, testing, treatment, and more. Just as importantly, between being infected and getting a vaccine, the vast majority of people have some immunity to Covid, something that wasn’t true at the beginning of the pandemic.

So what should I do to protect me and my family from Covid?
Stay up to date on your Covid vaccines. If you haven’t received the new updated booster since it came out in September, get it. And if you haven’t gotten your first Covid vaccine yet, now is the right time to get vaccinated. In fact, each week, we see a number of folks who are getting their first Covid vaccine.

Test if you’re sick. At-home tests are easy to use and give results in 15 to 30 minutes. Plus, you can get them for free or at low cost.

If you’re sick, stay home.

Know your COVID Community level. It’s updated weekly, and we share it on our website, aahealth.org. The COVID Community Level gives us a snapshot of the severity of covid in a community: low, medium, or high. You can use the level to guide your decisions around masking and participating in activities. For instance, when the community level is high, we recommend you mask in crowded public areas.

Masks, tests and vaccinations are available throughout the county and for free at the Department of Health.

Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.

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