On May 11, the government’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency will officially end, triggering a new set of policies related to the virus. Among the most significant changes will be the way data is collected and reported. The end of emergency declaration will lift the rule that required laboratories to submit COVID-19 test results to the CDC. In addition, hospitals and state health departments will face less stringent data reporting mandates. Taken together these policy shifts hamper the health officials’ ability to monitor infectious disease threats. The dismantling of these pandemic-era systems expose the long-time weaknesses in our national public health policies. Experts have warned for years about the need for a true national public health system, concerns that only grew after COVID-19 emerged in 2020. “What we have right now is not a national public health system,” said Nirav Shah, the CDC’s principal deputy director. “We have a patchwork. And as a result of that, when we want to get data and synthesize it, it takes a lot of legwork that takes way too long.”
The Biden administration announced it will no longer require international travelers arriving in the US to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. “As we continue to monitor the evolving state of COVID-19 and the emergence of virus variants, we have the tools to detect and respond to the potential emergence of a variant of high consequence,” Joe Biden said on Tuesday. “Considering the progress that we have made, and based on the latest guidance from our public health experts, I have determined that we no longer need the international air travel restrictions that I imposed in October 2021.” In addition, the administration will no longer require federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.