by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration on Wednesday extended the public health emergency for the COVID pandemic—just months after President Joe Biden declared that “the pandemic is over.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said due to “continued consequences” of the pandemic, the administration is extending the declaration for another 90 days. First issued in Jan. 2020, the designation allows the federal government to flood hospitals with funding to address COVID illness and increases access to public health insurance.
The latest extension is at odds with Biden’s comment in September that the pandemic is “over.”
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s—but the pandemic is over,” Biden told 60 Minutes.
The daily average of new COVID cases in the United States was 63,982 as of Jan. 10, according to the New York Times, down from a high of 805,062 in January 2022.
Becerra said in his statement that “a public health emergency exists and has existed since January 27, 2020.” States will be notified before the emergency powers expire, the department said.
“The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency remains in effect, and as HHS committed to earlier, we will provide a 60-day notice to states before any possible termination or expiration,” a Health and Human Services Department official said.
Perhaps the extension of the COVID emergency will distract people from the Biden administration’s other dubious ideas, such as the reboot of the indefensible college student bailout plan.
While the student debt transfer is mired in the courts, the Department of Education is unveiling a program that could cap student loan payments at 5% of an undergraduate borrower’s income, 0% for some, and, in many cases, forgive the loans completely after no more than 20 years.