Is the COVID emergency over? That’s what President Joe Biden told 60 Minutes four months ago. But New Hampshire’s U.S. representatives are divided on the issue.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday declaring “the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on March 13, 2020, in Proclamation 9994 (85 Fed. Reg. 15337) is hereby terminated.”
Rep. Chris Pappas said yes while Rep. Annie Kuster voted no.
Two days earlier, both Democrats voted to kill the resolution before it could come to the floor for a vote. That effort failed. Pappas was one of 11 Democrats who flipped their votes and supported the resolution.
Why did Pappas vote for a resolution he tried to kill? He declined to answer.
Kuster also refused to comment after casting her vote. NHJournal asked why she believed the U.S. and New Hampshire were still under COVID emergency conditions. What data was she using? And if there is an emergency, why doesn’t she wear masks in public or on the House floor?
Americans certainly don’t believe they are living through an emergency. According to Gallup, when asked to rank issues based on their importance “COVID has garnered no more than 1 percent of mentions for the past six months.”
Perhaps that is because the risks from COVID have fallen, too. In New Hampshire, the current COVID-19 death rate is 1.3 per week, down nearly 600 percent from this time last year and more than 900 percent below the 2020 peak.
And yet the emergency declaration has been extended 12 times since it was first implemented. That may finally be coming to an end, however. After news broke of the House vote, the Biden administration announced less than 24 hours before the vote, that they planned to end the emergency on May 11.
Why May 11? Is there any public health, medical or biological data to show whether COVID will be any more or less severe three months from now? The White House hasn’t released any, instead arguing they need the emergency powers to continue to spend “emergency” money on expanded healthcare services. They claim they also need it to keep the Title 42 rule in place at the border, which allows the expedited removal of some would-be migrants from the U.S. Critics note, however, that approximately six million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since Biden took office — four times the population of New Hampshire — and therefore there’s no measurable impact on the spread of COVID from the policy.
Still, Republicans welcomed the news.
“I am glad to see the White House is following the lead of House Republicans and announcing they plan to finally end the Public Health Emergency and the Covid Emergency Declaration, on the heels of our announcement last week that we will vote this week to immediately end this outdated declaration,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement. “Rather than waiting until May 11, the Biden administration should join us now in immediately ending this declaration.”