COVID-19 efforts shift from emergency to managed response
AUSTIN, Texas - The COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency Declaration is ending on May 11, 2023, according to an announcement made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A National Public Health Emergency (NPHE) Declaration is a mechanism that allows the federal government to provide additional support and resources to states and localities in response to a public health crisis.
“The end of the National Public Health Emergency unfortunately does not mean the end of COVID-19. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are being reported each day,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. “Our work continues preventing disease within our community as long as this virus persists.”
You will notice the following changes with the end of the declaration:
Dashboard Changes and Surveillance
Austin Public Health (APH) is finalizing updated COVID-19 dashboards to be in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas Department of State Health Services, and to address changes or elimination of federal or state COVID-19 metrics. A preview of the dashboard can be seen below. Previous dashboards have been archived and the data can be found in the COVID-19 data hub. Wastewater surveillance of COVID-19 in Travis County can be viewed on the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System’s data tracker.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic federal law allowed for continuous Medicaid coverage, but that continuous coverage has now come to an end. It is critical to ensure you still have access to health care coverage.
Texas Health and Human Services shared guidance on ensuring Medicaid coverage. To learn more, read the End of Continuous Medicaid Coverage FAQ (PDF).
"In the last three years we’ve seen loss and heartbreak, but we’ve also experienced our community come together and support each other to get through this pandemic,” said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. “COVID-19 isn’t over, but thanks to direct local investments from the Biden Administration, our community is on a strong road to recovery.”
APH will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines through the Shots for Tots and Big Shots clinics as well as the Mobile Vaccination Program's community events.
At-home COVID-19 test kits are available at APH Neighborhood Centers while supplies last.
"I’m proud of the effort of our public health workers and their engagement with our community to make COVID-19 information and resources readily available for everyone,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “Thanks to this work, we’re now able to return to a more normal way of life and enjoy Austin to the fullest.”
Throughout the pandemic, APH has worked closely with community organizations and leaders to provide resources and support to underserved communities including:
Conducting over 1.2 million COVID-19 tests
Distributing over 404,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Ensuring COVID-19 safety protocols were followed in over 10,000 businesses and establishments
"We understand that the end of the National Public Health Emergency Declaration may cause concerns for some members of our community," said Adrienne Sturrup, director of Austin Public Health. "But we want to reassure our community that we will continue to work to ensure disproportionally impacted communities have access to testing and vaccines. We are committed to health equity and addressing disparities in our response efforts."
As the National Public Health Emergency comes to an end, APH will continue to monitor and investigate COVID-19 cases, clusters and outbreaks, administer vaccines to those who need them and provide education and outreach to the community.