Three years into the Covid pandemic several of the last U.S. states’ Covid emergencies are winding down.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) announced his state’s emergency officially ends on Tuesday.
Five other states this month remained under Covid emergencies. New Mexico’s emergency is set to end Friday—although public health officials there are weighing a possible extension.
Illinois’ emergency is set to end alongside the federal government’s; Biden announced last month that the national emergency and the public health emergency for Covid-19 would end on May 11.
By contrast, Rhode Island and Delaware recently extended their Covid emergency declarations.
And in Texas—which hasn’t had any major Covid restrictions in years—Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he’ll continue to hold onto his expanded emergency powers until the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature passes a law to prevent local governments from imposing virus restrictions on their own.
The moves come as health care systems across the country continue to feel the strain of the pandemic. According to Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, “While the state’s Covid public health emergency is formally concluding, the health care system emergency remains.”
Her statement follows a warning in January that more nurses and healthcare workers may walk the picket line over staffing issues, following a strike that month by more than 7,000 nurses at two private New York City hospital systems.
Nursing shortages were already plaguing some hospitals years before Covid hit, and signs of a crisis loomed as a large percentage of the workforce was nearing retirement age.
Local public health departments nationwide reportedly worry the end of Covid emergencies will mean a return to limited funding for their budgets.
In response, Newsom signed a budget last year that will spend $200 million to help public health departments hire more workers. This year, though, he’s proposing cutting nearly $50 million in public health workforce training programs, part of his plan to cover a projected budget deficit.