What does end of COVID-19 national emergency mean for Kentuckians?

What does end of COVID-19 national emergency mean for Kentuckians?
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 11:31 AM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - A key date in the COVID-19 pandemic is quickly approaching.

President Joe Biden set May 11 as the date when the national COVID-19 emergency will end. Health leaders say that was set months ago to give time for certain transitional programs and services to end.

Most of us probably have not thought too much of COVID-19 lately. Life is much different now than it was three years ago, but the ending of the national emergency will mean if the virus rears its ugly head for you after it ends, it could mean it’s going to cost you some money.

The national emergency means local health departments will no longer be able to offer free services when it comes to COVID-19, such as testing or vaccines.

Back in February, we spoke with Kentucky Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack about what the May 11 date would mean for Kentucky.

“The bigger issue may be for people who want to access treatment, where it won’t be purchased by the federal government most likely going forward. People will have to use their private or public health insurance in order to pay for those medications,” said Dr. Stack in a February 2023 interview with WKYT.

Kentucky did have its own state emergency, but the General Assembly passed a law in 2022 that ended it then.

One issue that Dr. Stack said he was concerned about was Medicaid enrollment with nearly a quarter of a million Kentuckians having to shift to other programs.

Kevin Hall with the Lexington Fayette County Health Department says getting a COVID shot or a booster will be much like a flu shot, which now have very little or no cost to most.

“So much of public health is behind the scenes. We will return to doing that with Covid, just like we do with so many illnesses. Sending information to people and helping protect them,” said Hall.

COVID-19 is still infecting Kentuckians but no longer stressing the healthcare community. The latest numbers show most of the entire state in the green except for three northeastern Kentucky counties in the yellow.