The Covid-19 pandemic is no longer a national emergency. President Joe Biden on Monday made that official, signing a resolution to terminate the emergency status that had been in place since March 2020.
Biden had said he planned to end the emergency next month, but House Republicans in February passed a measure to end it sooner. The White House had opposed the GOP effort to end both the Covid-19 emergency and a related public health emergency more quickly, but the president subsequently made clear he would not veto the Republican measure. The Senate then passed the bill in a bipartisan 68-23 vote.
The resolution Biden signed on Monday, H.J. Res. 7, only ends the pandemic emergency. The pandemic emergency declaration first enacted under President Donald Trump allowed the government to take a broad range of actions to respond to the virus and the economic challenges it presented. Among the effects of the emergency ending, according to Zeke Miller of the Associated Press: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s COVID-19 mortgage forbearance program is set to end at the end of May, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is now returning to a requirement for in-home visits to determine eligibility for caregiver assistance.”
The related public health emergency, and the controversial Title 42 border policy it enables, will remain in effect until May 11. That emergency allowed to government to provide Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines at no cost and to expand other benefits.
The end of the national emergency came without much fanfare from the Biden administration. The White House on Monday issued a two-line statement simply stating that Biden had signed the resolution into law — “almost aggressively anodyne,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump called it.
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal notes that a White House official downplayed the impact of the signing, saying that the end of the emergency “does not impact our ability to wind down authorities in an orderly way.”
Why it matters: The pandemic may officially be over but people are still dying from the virus. “Despite Biden’s signature on H.J. Res. 7, of course, the coronavirus is still doing damage,” Bump notes. “While the variant of the virus that’s most prevalent at this point is proving to be less deadly than prior iterations, more than 1,700 people died from the virus in the past week alone.”