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This week, President Joe Biden signed Republican legislation to end the COVID-19 emergency declaration.
The move meant a number of significant and impactful changes for millions of people as Medicare and Medicaid waivers and flexibility for providers end. Specifically, the loss of Medicaid’s continuous enrollment provision, which has allowed many Americans to enroll in the program, will mean that between 5 and 14 million will lose their coverage according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
Telehealth coverage may see new restrictions and many Americans will lose their eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. According to a KFF report from February, the cost of COVID vaccines, tests, and treatment will likely increase for many people.
For more on the consequences of the end of the emergency declaration, check out this interview published by THE REAL NEWS on April 7:
Although the end of the emergency declaration signals that the federal government’s fight against COVID is over, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is still circulating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported roughly 3,000 COVID deaths this month and new variants are still emerging. The risk of future waves is very real, especially with immunity waning for millions of people.
Thus far, more than 1.1 million Americans have died from the virus and millions more are suffering long COVID and downstream effects of infection. An estimated 280,000 American children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver.
Despite the potential and real consequences, the end of the emergency declaration was met with relative silence from the left.
There was no acknowledgment of the change from the Twitter accounts of many of the country’s most well-known progressives and progressive groups following Biden's signing of the legislation. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Ed Markey as well as Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Barbara Lee, and Jamaal Bowman all voted against the legislation to end the emergency. But on Twitter, they offered no public criticisms or even acknowledgments of Biden for signing it. Nor did the main accounts of the Democratic Socialists of America, the Working Families Party, the U.S. Green Party, and the 2020 Green Party presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins.
One notable exception was Rep. Cori Bush, who tweeted directly at the president’s account. The representative called for making permanent expanded Medicaid and telehealth provisions.
While she did not call on Biden for action directly following the signing of the bill, other progressives had weighed in on the impending end of the emergency declaration in the lead-up to it. Earlier this month, Rep. Ro Khanna, for example, tweeted a call to action about the end of the emergency declaration, urging Congress to protect healthcare for millions of people. Similarly, in late March, Jayapal called for making permanent the expanded access to transition care enabled by the state of emergency.
Meanwhile, 2024 Democratic presidential primary candidate Marianne Williamson criticized Biden’s move, tweeting, “Ending Covid's health emergency status brings with it many problems, not the least of which is the loss of needed help for those suffering from Long Covid.”
Although on the campaign trail, Biden promised to follow the science and control the virus, he signaled early on his desire to move beyond the crisis, embracing school reopening while teachers' unions were fighting for safer workplaces, appointing corporate ally Jeff Zients to lead his COVID response, and even declaring “independence from COVID” was near on July 4, 2021—right as the Delta wave was hitting and with Omicron ahead. His administration has embraced a vaccine-only approach to the pandemic, allowing assistance measures like expanded unemployment assistance and the eviction moratorium to expire, stalled efforts on the global stage to strip intellectual property protections for COVID tools, and resisted calls to send out tests and other relief. His CDC abandoned masks, changing its metric for recommending people wear them.
The cumulative effect of these decisions has been a mounting body count. But as the casualty number climbed, Biden faced little pushback from the left. The notable exception was Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) leading a protest against the end of the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which embarrassed the administration into half-heartedly reinstating the measure before it was struck down in court.
But while the left has abstained from fighting in the realm of public health, the same cannot be said of business-aligned right-wing dark money groups, which have waged information warfare against them to force a return to economic normalcy.
OptOut remains committed to covering the COVID-19 pandemic until the crisis is truly over. With that, please enjoy this week’s selection from our participating outlets!
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More Pandemic News
OptOut participating outlets this week wrote about the emerging issue of long COVID, which a HHS report from November noted was impacting between 7.7 and 23 million Americans. According to the report, “long COVID can cause minor interferences in someone’s daily life; or, it can be extremely disruptive, dismantling their ability to work, their sense of self, and their entire existence.”
CAPITAL & MAIN wrote about the struggle Americans suffering from the condition face earning a living.
THE NATION wrote a piece called “The Long COVID Revolution” about the need for a meaningful policy response to long COVID.
There was also a piece in WHOWHATWHY about the millions struggling with the post-viral condition.
STATES NEWSROOM wrote about how long COVID is impacting businesses across America.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Ohio promoting his new book this week despite serious flooding in his state. THE NEW REPUBLIC had the story.
NEW REPUBLIC also had a piece this week about a visceral new ad from Trump World attacking the Florida Governor based on a story about him eating pudding with his fingers.
For his part, DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban. THE FLORIDA PHOENIX covered the story this week.
More ethical questions surround Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas this week. Earlier this month, ProPublica revealed that Thomas had failed to disclose significant hospitality gifts and travel from billionaire Harlan Crow over the years. In a follow-up story, ProPublica also revealed that Crow had purchased a house from the justice while Thomas’s elderly mother was living at the property and renovated it. STATES NEWSROOM outlets republished the story in full.
THE LEVER noted how Thomas had worked to kill disclosure requirements while accepting gifts from his billionaire benefactor.
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