Updated by Editors May 7, 2023
The US has suffered more from Covid-19 than other high-income nations. The state of emergency increased access to Medicaid, and assured free access to vaccines, tests, masks, and treatments for all US residents, including more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Even with these additional resources, the poor US government response has led to a nearly 3-year decline in average life expectancy, and larger declines in low- income and communities of color. Removing resources such as tests and care during the ongoing pandemic will cause a deadly disaster and worsen these intolerable inequities. The pandemic has NOT ended, and the US lacks sound public health policy to move to long-term management. We must fight to preserve and expand these wins. Moving forward, the US public deserves better.
These facts demonstrate the dangers of ending the emergency:
Covid-19 continues to kill more than 1000 people a week as of April, 2023. 30% of Americans still live in areas with substantial or high transmission rates. Over 8200 people with Covid-19 are now hospitalized in the US, with the rate of those over 70 being over 4 fold greater than younger people(https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker).
Covid-19 continues to mutate rapidly, and future mutations may be more severe. New vaccines will be needed, and people must be able to afford them. Vaccines are to be covered by insurance and will remain free for the uninsured for now, but proving lack of coverage may be onerous. Free telehealth for Medicare recipients will expire at the end of 2024.
Most people will lose access to free rapid and PCR tests. It’s vital to diagnose people who get Covid-19 so they can isolate and get needed care in order for the US to control the pandemic and decrease deaths and Long COVID.
Filling a prescription for Paxlovid, which can reduce the length and severity of Covid-19, will be free as long as government stockpiles last, but later may cost between $100-130 and require a doctor’s visit, clearly unaffordable for most people (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/end-of-phe.html).
As many as 15 million people could be cut off from Medicaid (depending on state policies) starting in April, losing access to general medical care as well as Covid-19 care.
Data collection and reporting on Covid- 19 test positivity, hospitalizations, and more will diminish, leaving the nation without good warnings of virus trends.
As the People’s CDC has documented (https://peoplescdc.org/), much is wrong with the US response to Covid-19, even with the state of emergency. Many workers lack sick leave, making it hard to isolate when infected. Food and housing insecurity are still widespread, and eviction moratoriums are no longer common. There is a huge deficit of adequate ventilation in many schools, workplaces, modes of transportation, and other public places. Ongoing funding is needed to continue to develop new vaccines, treatments, and research on Long COVID, which affects tens of millions and keeps at least 4 million people from working. Ending the state of emergency will soon let drug companies raise prices to reap billions in profits on top of the billions they have already made.
The latest Commonwealth Fund report (2022) on health in 12 high income countries has shown that the US has the poorest health outcomes across all income levels, but the suffering is not equally distributed. Covid-19, like almost all health problems, disproportionately affects and kills people who are low-income, black, Latin, Native, immigrant, elderly, and disabled. Thus, we demand affordable health care and an end to evictions and food shortages.
Covid-19 has exposed the extreme inequalities and ineffectiveness of a system that puts profit over people and perpetuates inequity and racism. That is the overarching emergency.
These resources and policies aid all of us. We demand:
Universal continued access to free healthcare, vaccines, tests, and high- quality masks (N-95, N-99, KN-95, or KF-94)
No cuts in Medicare
Free Paxlovid and other treatments
Affordable, quality housing-No evictions
Food stamps for all who need them
Options to work from home
Covid-19 safe, well-ventilated schools, workplaces, public transit, and indoor spacesSecure, non-precarious employment with safe workplaces Paid sick leave for all
Share this statement and ask your organizations to endorse these demands. Sign the petition at: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/maintain-healthcare
For more information, contact the People’s CDC at https://peoplescdc.org