Congressional Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to end the nation’s emergency health declaration after President Joe Biden said on television the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Sen. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) introduced a resolution on September 22 to end the declaration after Biden told 60 Minutes the pandemic had come to an end but the government would continue to deal with the disease. “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it,” said Biden.
“It was jaw-dropping,” Marshall told The Wall Street Journal, referring to the billions of dollars the White House continues to request in the name of fighting the pandemic. “Here’s Joe Biden talking out of both sides of his mouth, saying that the COVID pandemic is over with and yet he wants to continue these emergencies.”
Marshall’s bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Committee chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pledged to block the resolution.
Marshall had attempted to end the state of emergency on March 3, and a resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 49-48. The White House threatened a veto, and the measure was never picked up in the U.S. House.
In March 2020, President Donald Trump invoked the declaration under the National Emergencies Act. It has been extended several times and is currently set to expire on October 13.
Moment of Truth
“President Biden said what we’ve all known is true for months,” said Twila Brase, president and co-founder of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, in a press release published the day after Biden’s television interview aired. “Government officials must take him at his word and end the emergency declarations.”
The declarations are far from harmless, says Brase.
“Taxpayer dollars continue to be spent on unnecessary programs that are harmful to the American people and to American business,” said Brase. “Under these declarations, the emergency use authorizations for COVID shots, including untested booster shots, have continued to advance injection mandates in places of employment. People are forced to choose between a job they want and a jab that could harm them, potentially for life.”
Though thousands of Omicron cases continue to be registered daily, symptoms and death rates have significantly decreased and treatment options continue to improve.
“Currently the dominant variant, Omicron, is very mild for most people, even those in high-risk categories,” said Paul Alexander, Ph.D., a consulting researcher in evidence-based medicine, research methodology, and clinical epidemiology. “It is appearing to be less severe than the seasonal flu in general, with effective therapeutic treatments available.”
Alexander says there is no case for a state of emergency at this point.
“It cannot be justified by fears of a hypothetical recurrence of some more severe infection at some unknown hypothetical point in the future,” said Alexander. “We just cannot operate public health policy this way. If a novel severe strain or variant were to occur, and it seems unlikely from Omicron, then that would be the time we discuss a declaration of emergency. Not now. It is done, it is over, and it is time we let Americans go back to normal life.”
Health Worker Crisis
With so many resources still directed at the waning threat of COVID, several immediate health crises loom, not the least of which has been a shortage of health care workers.
During the emergency, hospitals laid off nurses and health care workers who chose not to receive COVID-19 inoculations. The vaccine mandates were a mistake, says Alexander.
“The data clearly showed very early on after COVID vaccine rollout that there was no difference in terms of viral load between a vaccinated and an unvaccinated person,” said Alexander. “Thus, the policy was punitive and nonsensical, and not just for nurses but for all employees subjected to it, without any scientific basis. Hospitals and workplaces should take these employees back and pay them all lost wages.”
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics says the nation will need 275,000 more nurses by 2030.
While the argument continues to be made to lift the national public health emergency, the pandemic itself seems to have created two new crises, says Joel Hirschhorn, the editor of the Pandemic Blunder newsletter and author of the book by the same title.
“The pandemic has shifted gears in that we have millions of people now with what we call ‘long COVID. That is a very serious medical condition with 20 to 30 common symptoms and few doctors know how to deal with it,” said Hirshhorn on The Heartland Daily Podcast on October 4.
Hirschhorn says ‘Long COVID’ can show up weeks or months after infection and may affect as many as 20 percent of patients.
The other crisis deals with the impact of the vaccines which can impact the immune systems and damage blood, says Hirschhorn.
“Those factors explain why some people have died within days of the shots, but the data also show people are dying on average about five months after their last shot,” said Hirshhorn.
Ashley Bateman (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Virginia.
AnneMarie Schieber, the managing editor of Health Care News, contributed to this article.
This article was updated on October 5, 2022.
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