COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ending: What to Know
On May 11, 2023, the COVID-19 Pandemic Public Health Emergency (PHE) expired across the country. This doesn’t mean COVID-19 is going away and it doesn’t impact how we prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, some programs, cost coverage, and information systems are changing. Here’s what you need to know.
Getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way to prevent hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. Even though the PHE expired, Alexandria residents should continue to stay up-to-date on vaccines.
Beginning May 11, 2023:
- Free vaccines and boosters are available through health care providers, pharmacies, and clinics, as long as the federally purchased vaccine supplies last. Alexandria Health Department does not anticipate the supply will run out soon, but AHD will inform the public if supplies are running out. The government and providers will cover the costs of these vaccines.
- Alexandria Health Department is still scheduling vaccine appointments over the phone and online.
What to do: Stay up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Visit our vaccine page for information - including updated vaccine guidance from April 2023 - and to find a vaccine appointment.
Testing is an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recommendations about when to test have not changed. However, what you pay for a COVID-19 tests now varies, depending on the type of test and your insurance. Beginning on May 11, test costs are available based on the following:
At-Home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests:
- Available for free at Alexandria libraries, daycares, and other sites. You do not need insurance.
- Available for purchase at Alexandria pharmacies and general stores
- Free for people with Medicaid.
- If you have Medicare or private insurance, you may have to pay some or all of the cost.
- Available at sites in Alexandria, including labs, provider offices, and some pharmacies.
- Free for all people with Medicaid.
- If you have Medicare or private insurance, you may have to pay some or all of the costs.
What to do: Even now, test if you are exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. Review more information about testing, when to test, and where to find a test here.
Even though the PHE expired, COVID-19 is still here and will continue to make people sick. COVID-19 treatments will still be available, though some costs may change:
- Paxlovid, a common COVID-19 treatment, is still being made and distributed, available to you at no cost, as long as federal supplies last.
- For COVID-19 treatments other than Paxlovid, you may have to pay.
What to do: Continue to test early if you have COVID-19 symptoms and talk to a health care provider about getting treated early.
Information and COVID-19 Prevention
The end of the COVID-19 PHE does not mean health agencies will no longer monitor COVID-19. Health agencies, including local health departments, are working together and with communities to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, the way in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health departments share COVID-19 data, updates, and guidance may change. For updated information on COVID-19, visit the CDC or Alexandria Health Department web pages or call Alexandria’s COVID-19 hotline at 703.746.4988.
Moving forward, you can continue to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Follow these safe practices to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay up-to-date on vaccines and boosters. New guidance was shared in April 2023.
- If you feel sick, stay home and test. Follow CDC protocols for isolating.
- Check in on your health and CDC guidance when making plans to be around other people. You can still mask!
- Regularly wash your hands.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to regularly practice safety.
Relief and Assistance
Some federal and state benefit programs that provided temporary eligibility and enrollment procedures ended with the COVID-19 PHE. Updated information about services available moving forward is listed below.
For more information, people should contact the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) Customer Relations. DCHS Customer Relations assists with a wide range of service needs that includes coordinating and connecting to programs, providing information and referral, and assisting customers with applications by navigating technology limitations, language barriers and literacy needs. The team is now serving walk-in clients at 4850 Mark Center Dr,, 5th floor and accepts calls at the Customer Call Center. CALL 703.746.5700 or TEXT 703.346.5599 for assistance.
Information on the end of the SNAP COVID Emergency Allotment, which ended in February 2023, and instructions on how to apply for SNAP to receive an electronic benefits card for the purchase of food.
Healthcare, Adult Mental Health, and Substance Use Services
MEDICAID | MEDICARE | FAMIS
Information about eligibility and how to apply for Medicaid, Medicare and the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan (FAMIS).
DENTAL, VISION AND HEARING
Learn about financial assistance for dental care through the Northern Virginia Dental Clinic, and access help for getting eyeglasses and hearing aids.
24-HOUR EMERGENCY MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
ADULT MENTAL HEALTH OUTPATIENT
Services include individual, group and family counseling; psychiatric evaluation and medication management; and case management to help access and coordinate services.
SUBSTANCE USE TREATMENT OUTPATIENT SERVICES
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Access programs and services to assist adults, youth and persons with disabilities in finding employment including SNAPET, VIEW, Rapid Response, Federal Bonding, Career Readiness Workshops, Youth Services, Public Benefits and Disability Services.
Child Care and Child Mental Health & Safety
Apply online for SNAP, FAMIS, Medicaid, child care assistance and TANF.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Information about TANF, a program that provides financial assistance to help eligible families meet basic needs or to recover from a fire or other disaster.
Housing Crisis and Homelessness Assistance
HOUSING CRISIS ASSISTANCE
Information about rent assistance and other housing crisis assistance that the Office of Community Services (OCS) provides including information on the Senior Rent Relief Program for those 65 and older.
Find information, including legal resources, for renters, landlords and homeowners to avoid evictions. Also learn about the Eviction Prevention Task Force.
Information about housing assistance, shelters and homeless services, warming/cooling centers, winter shelters, and what to do if encountering someone experiencing homelessness.
Utilities & Internet Assistance
Information about obtaining assistance with utility bills including gas and electric bills.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps households pay for internet service and connected devices. Eligible households may receive:
· Up to $30/month discount on internet service.
· Up to $75/month discount if the household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
· A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, table or desktop computer.
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. Not all participating internet service providers offer device discounts. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Participates in assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC or Lifeline
- Participates in a Tribal specific programs
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program
Enroll through a participating broadband provider or by (1) going to AffordableConnectivity.gov to submit an online application or print a mail-in application and (2) contacting a preferred participating broadband provider and selecting a plan. Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877.384.2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week. For questions, email to ACPinfo@fcc.gov.
Call Alexandria Health Department's COVID-19 hotline at 703.746.4988
For press inquiries only, contact Eve Elliott, Communications Officer at 703.746.4961.