Following Official End of Public Health Emergency
US Department of Health and Human Services Will End Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023
SOMERVILLE, MA – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, ends today, May 11, 2023, as does the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 public health emergency. As the country and state transitions to this next phase of the pandemic, the City of Somerville will continue to supply free masks and rapid tests to the community based on supply and resources.
“The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency does not mean COVID has been eradicated, but instead that we are moving into a new phase of the pandemic,” said Karin Carroll, Director of Somerville’s Department of Health and Human Services. “The virus remains active and can pose significant health risks, especially for anyone at risk for severe illness. We urge anyone who needs masks or free rapid tests to use City resources for as long as they’re available.”
Free rapid tests and KN95 masks will be available for pick up at the following locations as long as supplies last:
Somerville Central Library, 79 Highland Ave.
East Branch Library, 115 Broadway
West Branch Library, 40 College Ave.
Somerville City Hall, 93 Highland Ave.
City Hall Annex, 50 Evergreen Ave.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “most tools like vaccines, treatments, and testing will remain available.” However, important information for the Somerville community to be aware of includes:
COVID-19 vaccines: Vaccines continue to be recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death. Going forward, vaccines will generally be covered through private insurance, Medicare Part B, and Medicaid. Uninsured individuals can also receive free vaccines from the Somerville Health and Human Services Department. Visit cdc.gov/coronavirus for guidance on how to stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and mass.gov/covid for information on where to get vaccinated.
Treatment expenses: The CDC notes that COVID treatments such as Paxlovid will remain free in the coming months as long as supplies last. After that, out-of-pocket costs will vary by insurance plans. Medicaid programs will continue to cover COVID-19 treatments without cost sharing through September 30, 2024. After that, coverage and cost sharing may vary by state.
Coverage for COVID-19 testing: Private insurers will no longer be required to cover testing without charge; Medicare Part B will cover laboratory testing ordered by a provider, but over the counter tests will no longer be free; Medicaid coverage will exist through September 2024. Free over the counter tests from the federal government will be available based on supply and resources. As noted, free rapid tests currently remain available via the City at the Somerville locations listed above.
Healthcare access: If you do not currently have a healthcare plan or if your coverage is impacted by the end of the emergency, City Health and Human Services staff can assist with identifying healthcare options for you or referrals to agencies who can help. Please use the online support request form at somervillema.gov/support or call 311 (617-666-3311) to request to be connected to Human Services staff for assistance.
As the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends, Somerville’s Health and Human Resources Department urges all residents to continue to follow CDC guidelines and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones. We also encourage anyone who is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines to do so as soon as possible.
For more information on the availability of free rapid tests and KN95 masks, as well as stay up to date on booster clinics, please visit somervillema.gov/COVID19 or contact the Health and Human Services Department at (617) 625-6600 ext. 4320.