SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The COVID emergency is ending on May 11th and that will come with a few changes.

Dr. Armando Paez from Baystate Health told 22News free testing will no longer be available when the COVID emergency ends this week.

“COVID-19 is still around so yes, it’s not anymore in that phase of the pandemic but its endemic, meaning to say it’s still circulating in the community,” said Dr. Paez.

While the COVID emergency is set to end on May 11th, Dr. Paez says that it’s important for people who are at high risk to still take precaution by wearing masks and avoiding close contact when out in public. He adds that at this point, healthy people do not have to worry about COVID too much.

“There is already immunity there from the vaccination or from the natural infection that an average healthy individual will not be severely affected by illness due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Paez.

While COVID tests will no longer be free, Dr. Paez says vaccinations are still recommended. He says western Massachusetts has the lowest number of people to get the booster shot. He recommends that people still get vaccinated to prevent severe complications from COVID-19.

According to the CDC, access to COVID vaccines will not be affected for now and the U.S. government is currently distributing free COVID-19 vaccines for all adults and children. The CDC says their ability to collect and share data regarding COVID-19 will also change when the emergency ends.

Cathy Parker from West Springfield says even though the COVID public health emergency is ending, COVID is here to stay, “I don’t feel as though COVID will ever end, I think we are going to be dealing it with many years to come.”

Dr. Paez there will still be some guidance from Baystate Health which will be shared soon.