California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state will end its COVID-19 state of emergency in February 2023, nearly three years after it was first declared.
The months-long timeline will better prepare the state health care system for any surge in COVID cases that may result after the holidays and will give local governments time to make necessary changes, Newsom’s office said.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been guided by the science and data – moving quickly and strategically to save lives. The State of Emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we utilized to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it,” Newsom said in a statement. “With the operational preparedness that we’ve built up and the measures that we’ll continue to employ moving forward, California is ready to phase out this tool.”
The state of emergency will officially end Feb. 28, 2023, nearly three years after it began on March 4, 2020.
The emergency declaration allowed California to have the lowest death rate among large states, Newsom’s office said in a news release.
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If California had a similar death rate as Texas, 27,000 more people would have died, the release said. If California had Florida’s rate, that would have resulted in 56,000 additional deaths, it said.
As the state of emergency is phased out, the state’s “SMARTER Plan” will guide California’s “strategy to best protect people from COVID-19,” Newsom’s office said.
Newsom’s administration will be seeking to make statutory changes immediately upon the return of state lawmakers to the Legislature – the continued ability of nurses to dispense COVID-19 therapeutics and for laboratory workers to solely process COVID-19 tests.
“California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prepared us for whatever comes next. As we move into this next phase, the infrastructure and processes we’ve invested in and built up will provide us the tools to manage any ups and downs in the future,” said Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health & Human Services Agency. “While the threat of this virus is still real, our preparedness and collective work have helped turn this once crisis emergency into a manageable situation.”
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The federal government extended its COVID-19 public health emergency last week through Jan. 11, 2023. The move came weeks after President Biden said the pandemic was “over” and as health officials worry about a winter surge.