Healey Announces End to COVID Public Health Emergency in Mass. on May 11

Gov. Healey plans to file legislation extending some pandemic-era "flexibilities" that the emergency declaration provided,

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The Healey administration will lift the state's modified COVID-19 public health emergency effective May 11, and Gov. Maura Healey on that day also plans to walk back a vaccine mandate for tens of thousands of executive branch workers.

Healey's office announced Wednesday morning it plans to end the state-level public health emergency in alignment with the May 11 end of the federal public health emergency.

Former Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in March 2020, then issued a modified public health emergency in May 2021 and lifted the original state of emergency in June 2021. As part of the transition to the next phase of life with the virus, Healey said she plans to rescind a Baker executive order that required executive branch workers to undergo a primary vaccination series against COVID-19 or secure a medical or religious exemption. That policy proved controversial, prompting a legal fight with the State Police Association of Massachusetts.

Baker's office announced in December 2021 that nearly 1,000 of the 41,000-plus workers subject to the mandate either resigned or were fired from their government jobs. Healey's office said the mandate Baker imposed "helped raise the percentage of fully vaccinated executive department employees from around 76 percent to over 99 percent."

Some public workers in "certain roles and settings" will remain subject to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Healey's office said.

The governor plans to file legislation extending some pandemic-era "flexibilities" that the emergency declaration provided, dealing with staffing for out-of-hospital dialysis centers, advanced life support ambulance transfers and prepackaged medications.

"Thanks to the hard work of our health care providers and communities, we've made important progress in the fight against COVID-19," Healey said. "We know that we have the tools to manage this virus -- vaccines, masking, testing, getting treatments and staying home when sick -- and we've reached the point where we can update our guidance to reflect where we are now. I'd also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Baker and his administration, who saved countless lives by putting these important measures in place in a time of immense crisis."

Copyright State House News Service
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