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While some state and local leaders are moving to drop COVID-19 pandemic emergency declarations, others hope to extend them.
According to The New York Times, 13 Democratic state governors wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra this week, calling on Becerra to extend the nationwide public health emergency declaration for at least another three months beyond its scheduled expiration.
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That order, which was first implemented in January of 2020, is set to expire in April.
The governors reportedly said that they need more time to prepare and asked that the notice period before making a change to the declaration also be increased from 60 to 90 days.
The most recent extension occurred on January 16.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra answers questions at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss reopening schools during Covid-19 at Capitol Hill on September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Greg Nash- Pool/Getty Images)
However, Republican lawmakers, in their own letter, have previously called on the Biden administration to end the declaration.
As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have plummeted since January’s surge of the omicron variant, mask and vaccine verification requirements have been lifted.
At the end of last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened its guidance on wearing masks indoors, including for schools.
California became the first state to officially make a blueprint for a shift to an “endemic” approach to the pandemic.
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Since then, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Idaho Gov. Brad Little have all taken steps to move past or lift their COVID-19 emergency orders.
The leaders expressed their hopefulness that current positive pandemic trends would continue – despite the hanging threat of future variants.
“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed,” Carney said at the end of February. “Over the last month, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically, and we are clearly moving into a new phase of this pandemic.”
“We’re hopeful the recent decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths means we are on a downward trend with the pandemic,” Little said Tuesday. “The April 15 timeframe provides an important bridge for hospitals and other healthcare providers to plan for the transition.”
“Lifting Oregon’s COVID-19 emergency declaration today does not mean that the pandemic is over, or that COVID-19 is no longer a significant concern,” Brown also said in February.
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The emergency declaration has already ended in Delaware, and will be lifted on April 1 in Oregon and April 15 in Idaho.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.