Officials to end state’s COVID-19 public health emergency

Officials to end state’s COVID-19 public health emergency
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 11:09 AM EDT
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BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) – The state’s COVID-19 public health emergency will soon be coming to an end.

The Healey-Driscoll Administration said that the emergency will end on May 11, which is the same day that the federal public health emergency will end. Wednesday’s announcement comes ahead of a 45-day notice required by state law and will allow more time for impacted organizations to prepare for the emergency’s conclusion.

“We know that we have the tools to manage this virus – vaccines, masking, testing, getting treatments and staying home when sick – and we’ve reached the point where we can update our guidance to reflect where we are now. I’d also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Baker and his administration, who saved countless lives by putting these important measures in place in a time of immense crisis,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement.

“We’ve seen a significant improvement from the standpoint of the number of patients,” said Dr. Kenton. “We’ve been averaging about seven patients or so a week.”

At Mercy Medical Center in Springfield Dr. Mark Kenton explained they’ve seen a dramatic decrease in covid-19 patients. He told Western Mass News the peak was 50 to 60 patients a day to 16 to 18 in the intensive care unit each week. Now, the number of patients each week is in the single digits.

“I would expect next winter we’ll see a very similar trend that we see every year from the standpoint of influenza and RSV that COVID is just going to be part of that now,” said Dr. Kenton.

In addition, Healey will file legislation to extend flexibilities around health care staffing and EMS that were provided through the public health emergency. She also plans to rescind Executive Order 595, which required a primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations for all Executive Branch state employees.

Patrick McNamara, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said in a statement, in reaction to rescinding the executive order:

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll, and their administration for working with our Association to rescind Executive Order 595…This has been a long journey for our membership. We have been seeking the same treatment as other Commonwealth employees and for our leaders in government to hear our voice. Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration did just that with the announcement to rescind Executive Order 595. Our Association and our Executive Board are excited to get our members back to do what they do best, protecting the Commonwealth. Thanks once again to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for hearing our voice and being a true partner in this effort.”

The Healy Administration also announced flexibilities beyond May 11 that include a six-month plan to continue staffing out-of-hospital dialysis centers and a permanent plan to staff advanced life support ambulance transports with an EMT and first responder drive rather than two EMT’s.

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.