COVID-19 no longer public emergency: What’s next for health of Ga., Ala. families

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 5:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - From masks to hand sanitizer and quarantines, it seems those three are a thing of the past. Now it has been federally declared that the public emergency for COVID-19 will expire Thursday. But what will that mean for you and your health moving forward?

According to the Department of Public Health, some data recorded will no longer be required to be reported. For instance, doctors will no longer be required to report when someone is vaccinated.

“COVID-19 is here. It continues to infect people. This is just a transition where the federal government, where the relaxation or requirements for others are changing based on the federal government and its requirement,” said Wes Stubblefield, district medical officer.

Georgia Department of Public Health representative Pam Kirkland agreed, saying, “COVID is going to be one of those things that we just have to live with.”

Now the federal government has decided that it’s no longer a public health emergency, what does this mean for families in Alabama and Georgia?

Dr. Stubblefield says most Americans won’t notice a difference. He says you can still get free vaccination through the Department of Public Health. The only difference you’ll see is if you live in Alabama, you’ll have to pay for any at-home tests. They will no longer be free.

“There are things that will change. For example, during the PHE, all tests were provided for free. After the PHE, it all goes back to your insurance carrier.”

“For us here in Georgia, we’re not going to see too much of a change. You will still be about to get vaccines at no cost, and you will still be able to get testing done at not cost.”

According to the CDC, the reason for the emergency to be lifted, in case numbers, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 are significantly lower than during surges of the virus. But there will be a change in what you see regarding reporting.

“COVID is always going to be a reportable disease. So physicians who do have positive cases will have to report those. What we can’t report are the people who do the at-home test kits and are positive.”

Stubblefield and Kirkland both say now that numbers are not being reported, it doesn’t mean we should take precautions against the virus.

“COVID-19 is still causing hospitalizations and death in Alabama,” said Stubblefield.

“Washing your hands really does make a difference. If you are sick, stay at home. You don’t want to get anyone else sick,” said Kirkland.

For more information on the new changes, click here.