April 20, 2023

NIOSH Looks Ahead to End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

NIOSH will continue to support activities related to occupational safety and health and COVID-19 after the end of the United States’ public health emergency, the agency says in the latest issue of its e-newsletter. The U.S. government is currently planning for the COVID-19 public health emergency to expire at the end of the day on May 11. The separate national emergency, which allowed the federal government to take sweeping steps to respond to COVID-19, was terminated on April 10. NIOSH’s e-newsletter helps answer some questions regarding COVID-19 data tracking and how the end of the emergency will affect workplaces.

According to NIOSH, CDC is assessing surveillance needs as well as potential revisions to surveillance systems to track COVID-19 after the end of the public health emergency. CDC’s COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review explains that the agency is “transitioning to sustainable national COVID-19 surveillance,” citing variant data as a good example of sustainable surveillance. The agency states that most data activities on its COVID Data Tracker won’t be affected by the end of the public health emergency but that the May 12 issue of the Weekly Review will provide updates regarding where users can find COVID-19 data. As of April 19, a total of 104,348,746 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the U.S., with 1,128,404 total reported deaths. Current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. total 10,917.

A fact sheet (PDF) published by the Health Action Alliance, which seeks to help employers navigate evolving health challenges like COVID-19, provides some information about how the end of the public health emergency will affect workplaces. For example, the end of the emergency will affect employees’ access to COVID-19 tests, boosters, and treatments. The Health Action Alliance urges employers to consider how changes to insurance coverage might affect worker health and communicate changes that employees will see in their health plans. The fact sheet also encourages employers to maximize indoor ventilation to reduce the risk of workplace transmission, support employees who want to wear masks, and remind workers to stay home when feeling sick.