Mayor Scott, Baltimore City Health Department Recognizes End of COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency
Wednesday May 10th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, May 10, 2023) - The Biden Administration has announced that tomorrow, Thursday, May 11, 2023, marks the official end of the COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency (PHE). This comes on the heels of the World Health Organization's (WHO) announcement that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency. In response, the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) released the following statements:
According to Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore City Mayor:
"As a lifelong Baltimore resident, I've never been prouder of my home than in the last three years. The global pandemic has been marked by death, doubt, and disease. But in Baltimore, we've overcome the worst of COVID-19 through the courage of our residents and the strength of our institutions. That is the power of the community we've built. When we face a challenge, we fight it together. And when we fight together, there's no challenge we cannot face.
The end of the National Public Health Emergency is therefore a significant achievement, but one we must not take for granted. COVID-19 is still the third leading cause of death for the third year in a row. To keep Baltimore safe, we must continue to make smart health decisions, which includes listening to medical guidelines and staying up to date on COVID-19 boosters. It's been a long three years for Baltimore, but a resilient three years. Together, let us prove how strong we remain."
According to Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Interim Baltimore City Deputy Mayor and former Baltimore City Health Commissioner:
"Three years ago, the world was held captive by the deadliest pandemic in more than a century. In the time since, millions were forced to pause their lives while millions tragically lost their lives. That is why today is a turning point in our history; and one we should all be proud of. Without the tireless work of Baltimore's residents and institutions, we could not have gotten to this point as a city. And without similar efforts across the country, the National Public Health Emergency would still be ongoing.
However, COVID-19 has not entirely gone away. And the best way to honor those we lost is to continue making smart and healthy decisions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the most vulnerable among us. That means that if you experience COVID-19 symptoms, you should test yourself immediately. If you do have COVID-19, you should isolate according to medical guidelines. And most importantly, if you are not vaccinated or up to date on your vaccinations, please take advantage of Baltimore's free COVID-19 vaccine services.
For those who are fully vaccinated, the end of the National Public Health Emergency means we can now return to most of our favorite activities without fear or disruption. But if you are not fully vaccinated, COVID-19 still poses a serious risk of severe disease, hospitalization, or even death."
According to Mary Beth Haller, Acting Baltimore City Health Commissioner:
"The end of the COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency does not mean the end of COVID-19 or its risk to the unvaccinated, under-vaccinated, and Baltimore's most vulnerable residents. That is why the Baltimore City Health Department will continue many of the COVID-19-related services that residents depend on, including providing free vaccinations and take-home tests. Today is a milestone. But our mission to protect health and eliminate disparities continues."
Updated Vaccine Guidelines
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vulnerable Americans are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination booster this spring.
What has changed:
- Adults aged 65 and older and the immunocompromised are eligible to receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose, at least four months after their initial updated (bivalent) vaccine dose.
- The monovalent (original) COVID-19 mRNA vaccines will no longer be recommended for use in the United States.
What has not changed:
- The CDC continues to recommend that everyone aged 6 years and older receive an updated (bivalent) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are aged 6 years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years and older or immunocompromised.
- For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and whichever vaccines they previously received.
BCHD Plans for Next Phase of Pandemic
- BCHD received funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that will enable it to continue many COVID-19 related services into 2024.
- BCHD and its partners will continue to provide Baltimore residents and underserved communities free vaccines and take-home tests, regardless of health insurance status.
- To achieve this, BCHD and its partners will regularly provide clinics in neighborhoods across the city where residents can get vaccinated or receive take-home tests for free.
- Medicaid programs will continue to cover COVID-19 treatments like Paxlovid without cost sharing through September 30, 2024. After that, coverage and cost sharing may vary by state.
Changes to BCHD COVID-19 Dashboard
Starting May 11, BCHD's COVID-19 dashboard will focus on tracking cases, deaths, hospitalizations, the CDC COVID-19 Community Level, and COVID-19 vaccination data. Due to changes in COVID-19 test reporting requirements, both test volume and percent positivity can no longer be calculated; this data will therefore be removed from the dashboard, as will outdated content. The revised dashboard will be updated weekly, reflecting the latest data.
In addition to the revised dashboard, BCHD has closed its COVID-19 Call Center line. Residents who call the line will be asked to follow prompts to connect with other health department programs for information about COVID-19, take-home tests, and vaccination appointments. The City's COVID website has also been updated to reflect this change.
BCHD COVID-19 Efforts and Accomplishments
During the pandemic, BCHD worked with more than 70 partners to achieve a remarkable 81 percent city vaccination rate that has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives so that Baltimore residents can B'more safe, B'more healthy, and enjoy their lives without fear or disruption.
- Baltimore achieved an 81 percent vaccine coverage rate for residents aged 12 years and older (according to the CDC)
- More than 420,000 Baltimore City residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Since December 2020, BCHD has held or been involved with more than 2,700 COVID-19 vaccination clinics, administering more than 90,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Dozens of local organizations received federal mini-grants to address Baltimore's social determinants of health exacerbated by the pandemic, including food insecurity, housing displacement, and education.
To learn more about BCHD's COVID-19 services and information, please visit: https://coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/
BCHD is the oldest continuously operating health department in the nation. The agency's mission is to protect health, eliminate disparities, and enhance the well-being of everyone in our community through education, coordination, advocacy, and direct service delivery.