On Thursday, May 11th, the Biden Administration will end the Federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors and international air travelers.
The action reverses a declaration that was first made on January 30, 2020, when the disease had not even been named COVID-19 and when there were no major outbreaks beyond China.
As these declarations come to an end, Riverside County emphasizes that the coronavirus is here to stay.
“It's important to remember that that doesn't mean that COVID is over, that we no longer are seeing it in the community," said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, Riverside County's Deputy Public Health Officer and ambassador for the American College of Preventive Medicine.
She says with with the end of the federal Covid emergency, vaccines will still be readily available.
“We have bivalant vaccines for those who haven't gotten their bivalant vaccines. Still a good idea to do that.”
California ended its Covid emergency back in February. As May 11th approaches with the federal update, Dr. Chevinsky says you could see changes in testing and treatment coverage.
“There are some providers, for instance, Medi-Cal will continue to cover testing and treating up through September 2024. But there may be individual differences in different insurance plans. The county is serving as a buffer. So we still have tested treat sites that we work with.”
With the federal Covid emergency ending, the Biden administration also announced there will no longer be vaccination requirements for federal employees, contractors and international travelers.
Dr. Chevinsky says they will still be keeping a close eye on Covid-19 cases throughout the county.
“We're still seeing a combination of variants, but certainly the Omicron variants and sub variants are," she explained. "We're in a better place compared to where we were, you know, in past peaks, but COVID is still there.”
Dr. Chevinsky encourages being cautious. She says the earlier, the better when it comes to testing.
“If you're feeling like you're you're having some symptoms, it's better to test early and then get treatment early. Because for treatment, you only have five days in order to get that in order for it to be effective."