Important Information about New York Medicaid Rules ** This article has been revised from its…
After dealing with several waves of the Coronavirus, we’ve all anxiously awaited the official end to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 remains a reality. However, as of September 2, 2022, funding is no longer available to provide free at-home COVID-19 test kits from the Department of Health and Human Services. But the HHS will continue to provide free test kits for schools, child care centers, food banks, community health centers, and long-term care facilities.
Americans can still get at-home test kits from other sources and may be able to have the cost reimbursed through their private health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. To find out how you can get in-home test kits, go to COVID.gov. To learn more about Medicare and Medicaid services, visit CMS.gov.
Since the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus started spreading in November 2021, we have seen many subvariants during 2022, the most recent being the BA.5 variant. Though it is the most contagious so far, it appears not to cause as many hospitalizations as earlier strains of the virus. A concerning characteristic of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants is their ability to elude antibodies produced after vaccinations and infections.
In August 2022, the Food and Drug Administration authorized two booster vaccinations to offer protection against disease caused by the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the Omicron variant. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot is for people at least 12 years old, and the Moderna booster shot is for people 18 or older..
National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
In 2021, the Biden Administration created the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to establish key goals for handling the virus while it remains a threat. These goals include:
• protect against and treat COVID-19
• prepare for new variants
• continue to vaccinate the world
Protect Against and Treat COVID-19
Since January 2021, there are more tools than ever to protect against COVID-19. The Biden Administration has deployed health care solutions, including vaccinations to states, local governments, and public and private partners. People who have been vaccinated and received a booster shot are forty-one times less likely to die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
The Biden Administration has also expedited the development, manufacturing, and access to COVID-19 treatments, such as the one offered by Pfizer. As we wrap up 2022, millions of courses of Pfizer’s life-saving antiviral pills are available, reducing the risk of hospitalization or death by 89%.
Thousands of free testing sites are located across the country and millions of at-home test kits are available.
The Administration will continue to enhance the current tools in preparation for new variants and outbreaks in the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus and adjust its guidelines according to developments as we enter 2023.
Prepare for New Variants
Due to the coordinated efforts of federal agencies, we have made progress in avoiding significant surges in hospitalizations and deaths from the numerous recent coronavirus variants. The Biden Administration will work with interested federal agencies to keep the American public informed about ways to protect themselves and the people around them.
As we enter the fall and winter seasons, the Biden Administration will continue to rely on critical surveillance methods to monitor the spread of COVID within the United States. One such method is the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System, which collects data from over 1,000 wastewater sampling sites in sewer systems that serve about half of the U.S. population.
The Biden Administration has submitted an updated $22.4 billion request to Congress to meet immediate short-term domestic needs, such as:
• Research and development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics
• Increasing our understanding of Long COVID
• Preparing for future surges and variants
• Supporting the global response to COVID-19
Though we’ve made significant progress fighting this virus, Congress needs to ensure we can continue to respond adequately to unpredictable health concerns in the future. This means continuing to provide lifesaving tools, including updated COVID-19 vaccines, for free. Otherwise, Americans will have to look to the commercial market for vaccines, test kits, and treatments, leaving some Americans vulnerable.
With additional requested funding, the Biden Administration can continue working with state and local health departments, health care providers, health insurers, and other stakeholders to enable a smooth transition from government-funded tools to commercial market-funded tools.
Continue to Vaccinate the World
US mitigation efforts go beyond our borders, as the Administration has committed to donating over 1 billion vaccine doses to other countries and delivered over 475 million free doses to 112 countries.
In addition to donating vaccines, life-saving resources, such as oxygen, treatments, PPE, and other essential supplies, have also been delivered to countries experiencing outbreaks. US government public health experts are working with providers to offer technical assistance in vaccine program implementation, care provision, and outbreak investigation. Fostering an environment for innovation has increased the world’s capacity to manufacture vaccines. A successful National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan extends into 2023 and beyond to produce reliable data, tests, vaccines, and treatments.
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