LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release May 8)–Lincoln’s state of emergency for COVID-19 will end.
The City Council on Monday voted unanimously to end the public health emergency, starting Thursday, the same day the federal emergency will end. Lincoln-Lancaster County Health officials did say they will continue COVID-19 resources which includes COVID-19 vaccines, testing, medication and treatments, and more.
The city also released the following information following the decision by the Council.
There is still a national stockpile of COVID-19 vaccine, which will continue to be offered at no cost for now, according to the federal government. The federal government is expected to transition the COVID-19 vaccination program into a more traditional health coverage in summer or early fall.
COVID-19 bivalent vaccine is approved for everyone age 6 months and older. LLCHD will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations onsite at the Health Department, 3131 “O” St. Appointments can be scheduled online at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or by calling 402-441-4200. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently approved an additional dose of the updated bivalent booster for adults 65 years and older and people who have weakened immune systems. LLCHD is awaiting final guidance from the CDC and will provide more information on offering additional doses to these groups in the near future.
Even when the federal and local public health emergencies end, COVID-19 will still be present in the community. The Health Department encourages residents to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
At-home test kits remain available in the main lobby of the Health Department during regular business hours. Test kits are also available at all Lincoln City Library locations. People enrolled in Medicare Part B will continue to have coverage for laboratory-conducted COVID-19 tests when ordered by a health care provider. State Medicaid programs must also provide coverage for COVID-19 testing until Sept. 30, 2024.
The CDC will also continue to fund some pharmacy-based testing through the Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) for COVID-19 program for people who are uninsured. The ICATT website is https://testinglocator.cdc.gov/.
Private insurance providers will no longer be required to provide free COVID-19 tests (over the counter or laboratory).
Medication and Treatments
Access to certain treatments, such as Paxlovid, to prevent severe illness from COVID-19 will generally not be affected as of now. Like COVID-19 vaccines, a supply remains in the federal stockpile and it will remain free while supplies last, according to the federal government. After that, the price will be determined by the medication manufacturer and your health insurance coverage.
Lincoln and Lancaster County have set aside $1.5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to address any potential unmet community needs. The Health Department will continue to monitor upcoming guidance from the federal government and keep residents informed of additional developments.
For more information on the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/end-of-phe.html.
COVID-19 Risk Dial
The Risk Dial will end May 11, 2023. The Risk Dial was developed by the Health Department and launched in May 2020 during the height of the pandemic. It was part of a data-driven approach to clearly communicate the risk of spread and impact of COVID-19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County. In 2021, the webpage that included the Risk Dial received an average of one million monthly views.
The dashboard will continue to be updated on weekdays and contains the latest data on cases, testing, wastewater surveillance, deaths and vaccination status. The end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency will result in some changes to reporting requirements for hospital data. The CDC plans to launch a new resource – COVID-19 hospital admission levels – on May 11 and there will be a link on the COVID-19 dashboard to this information. The dashboard is located at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov.
The number associated with the Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline, 402-441-8006, remains active. Public health nurses are available to answer questions about COVID-19 along with other general health questions.