The World Health Organizationemergency committee will announce its decision on whether to end its COVID-19 emergency status; it announced that status three years ago today.
The health authority for San Patricio County, Dr. James Mobley told us if the WHO announces the emergency status is over, things like free COVID testing, free shots, and special provisions for medicare and Medicaid would go away.
“Either the states will have to pick them up, people will have to pick up more of the cost of these things," said Dr. Mobley.
Mobley said the decision is all about funding. He said he’s received extra staff at the San Patricio Health Department because of the COVID emergency status. But, if that goes away, “I’ve got to figure out, do I gotta keep them on because they are doing a great job, or are we going to have to cut back?” said Dr. Mobley.
According to the CDC, just over 1.1 million people have died from COVID in the United States alone.
"We still have a lot of people who are getting sick and continue to get sick. Then, we have people who do not want to get the vaccination because they think they are going to be injected with something," said Ramiro Ruiz, who lives in the Coastal Bend.
Ramiro Ruiz and Ezra Asevedo said they are concerned that ending emergency status now could be too soon.
“It started out in 2019, and it was a big thing, you know a lot of lost lives, you know a lot of lost loved ones were gone. So, it’s definitely something to take seriously," said Asevedo.
And Dr. Mobley said we’ll need to pay attention to what happens next.
“So what provisions are we going to keep in place? Emergency or not. Especially to push those immunizations out to countries that still have very low rates of immunizations," said Dr. Mobley.
Another impact if the COVID-19 emergency status ends? An increase in SNAP benefits that we saw rise during that time could also end.