The federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency that has been in place since early 2020 will end on May 11, 2023. The Public Health Emergency will end because we have made progress in addressing COVID-19 and can transition away from the emergency phase. It does not mean that the virus that causes COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
Public health emergencies allow the government more flexibility to quickly develop new programs to support the public’s well-being. During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, vaccines and tests were made available at no charge to the public. When the public health emergency ends, commercial insurance companies and providers will be able to bill patients for vaccines and testing. It does not affect the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) issued for COVID-19 vaccines, tests, or treatments.
What to know about access to COVID tests.
Private health insurance will no longer be required to provide free over the counter COVID-19 antigen (home tests) or laboratory-performed tests. Some plans may continue to voluntarily cover testing. The cost of testing will depend on the insurance provider.
Those enrolled in Medicare Part B will no longer be eligible for free home COVID-19 tests, but will continue to have coverage for laboratory performed tests when ordered by a provider. State Medicaid programs will continue to provide both free home and laboratory performed COVID tests through September 2024, at which point coverage may vary by state.
People who do not have insurance will have to pay for home and laboratory-performed tests or find free or reduced priced tests at places like community health centers.
Free home test resources are available in Fairfax Health District until July 2024 for libraries enrolled in the STACC program.
Act Now: Those with Medicare and private insurance can still get free home tests before May 11. One option, while supplies last, is to order free tests by mail at COVIDtests.gov if you have not already reached the order limit.
Vaccination remains important.
COVID-19 vaccines will largely be covered if you have insurance — including private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are a preventative health service for most private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid and will be fully covered without a copay or cost sharing for most.
Those without insurance will incur costs to get vaccinated but can take advantage of free or reduced cost clinics. Moderna and Pfizer have indicated that they will use patient assistance programs to provide free vaccine for uninsured and underinsured individuals while the federal government’s supply of vaccine lasts.
The Health Department remains vigilant.
At Fairfax County Health Department clinics, free testing and vaccination will continue to be available after May 11 by appointment for people who have no insurance or cannot otherwise get those procedures. The COVID-19 Call Center will no longer be operational after May 19, but people may call the Health Department for an appointment at 703-246-7100.
The Fairfax County Health Department continues to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks and will keep residents informed. The health department monitors and investigates outbreaks of illness, including COVID-19, in a variety of settings. These include schools, daycares, businesses, universities, long term care centers, skilled nursing centers, detention facilities, and facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness, among others. We also use hospital and urgent care data. The health department maintains two public facing dashboards with case and vaccine data and will continue to provide timely updates.
The end of the public health emergency does not mean that COVID-19 is over. COVID-19 is still making people sick in our community. We continue to encourage you to take steps to protect yourself, your family, and those around you.
- Stay up to date on recommended COVID-19 vaccines.
- Know when to test if you are sick or if you were around someone with COVID-19.
- Stay home, and cover coughs and sneezes, if you are sick.
- Keep up other healthy habits, including knowing when to wear a mask.
Continue to stay informed about COVID-19 by visiting our web page and following us on social media.