Biden Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency For 11th Time

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Biden administration renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency Wednesday, the 11th time the government has made that determination since the pandemic began in early 2020.

It marks the second time the emergency has been extended since President Joe Biden declared the COVID-19 pandemic “over” in September. Officials reportedly aim to end the emergency declaration by the spring of 2023, but now will likely have to wait at least a little while longer to do so.

Biden said in September 2022 that while the administration is “still doing a lot of work on it … the pandemic is over.” The declaration was met with consternation and clarification from various administration officials, who pushed messaging to the contrary.

Various pandemic-era programs legally require the emergency declaration to stay in place, from free COVID-19 tests for the public to a pause on student loan debt payments.

The extension lasts 90 days, but the emergency could be ended sooner. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra has said the agency will give 60 days’ notice before ending the emergency declaration.

Becerra said Wednesday he is extending the emergency “as a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary.” (RELATED: Biden Can’t End The COVID Public Health Emergency — His Agenda Is Depending On It)

One key result of continuing the emergency is maintaining bloated Medicaid rolls. As long as the emergency declaration is in place, states cannot clear their Medicaid rolls of ineligible residents, leading to more Americans being enrolled in the program than ever before. As many as 15 million Americans could lose Medicaid coverage once the emergency ends.