BOSTON (WWLP) – Three years ago, we probably never thought we would get to this stage of the virus but we’re just two days away from the COVID-19 public health emergency ending.
DPH Commissioner Robert Goldstein and DPH Medical Director Dr. Larry Madoff discussed on Tuesday what the ending of public health emergency means to Massachusetts and how the state plans to manage COVID-19 in the future.
“This is not the end of COVID-19, this is the end of the emergency phase of the disease,” said Commissioner Goldstein.
The biggest changes in Massachusetts will be the mask mandate for health care facilities. On Thursday, the requirement to wear a face mask in health care facilities will be removed, leaving the decision to individual facilities.
All health care facilities are asked to create plans in case of a high transmission of COVID-19. Mass. DPH says the state hasn’t seen an incident of high COVID-19 transmission since February. Masks will still be available at hospitals for patients and staff that would like to wear one.
“Hospitals across Massachusetts are reporting that from the first time since March 2020, they have no patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19,” said Goldstein.
Access to COVID-19 vaccines will remain available to residents for free, with the costs still being paid for by the federal government. COVID-19 testing locations will no longer be around, but Mass. DPH says they still have up to 2.5 million testing kits stocked and ready to disperse to local municipalities if a large spread of COVID-19 is detected.
Dr. Goldstein says Massachusetts is one of the top three states for the percentage of residents who have completed their COVID-19 vaccine primary series and are up to date with the bivalent COVID-19 booster.
“We have really built our infrastructure to be stronger and more resilient. We’ve built our capacity to detect and to respond, I think that will help us going forward,” said Goldstein.
The COVID-19 public health emergency ends this Thursday in Massachusetts and nationally. Mass. DPH still encourages residents to get vaccinated even after the end of the health emergency.