Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023.
Over the last two years, nearly 270 million Americans have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. As a result of this and other efforts, since the peak of the Omicron surge at the end of January 2022:
Daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92%,
COVID-19 deaths have declined by over 80%, and
New COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80%.
We have come to this point in our fight against the virus because of our country’s historic investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts. Addressing COVID-19 remains a public health priority to the Tulsa Health Department and is not fully dependent on the COVID-19 PHE.
Q: Is COVID-19 still a concern in Tulsa County?
A: COVID-19 can affect anyone, and the disease can cause symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. We know that certain things can make people more likely to get very sick with COVID-19. We also know that certain settings and activities can make you more likely to get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Q: Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The end of a public health emergency does not equate to the end of the current national vaccine distribution program or the availability of vaccine commercially. The Tulsa Health Department continues to provide Covid-19 vaccine to anyone ages 6 months and up. THD has several immunization clinic locations across Tulsa County.
Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines free?
A: At this time, THD is able to maintain a supply of federally funded Covid-19 vaccines, and will continue to offer federally funded COVID-19 vaccines at no direct cost to the recipient. THD may submit a claim to private insurance for the administration fee. In the future, many Americans will continue to pay nothing out-of-pocket for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are a preventive health service for most private insurance plans and will be fully covered without a co-pay. Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are covered under Medicare Part B without cost sharing, and this will continue. Medicaid will continue to cover all COVID-19 vaccinations without a co-pay or cost sharing through September 30, 2024, and will cover ACIP-recommended vaccines for most beneficiaries thereafter.
Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines still authorized by the FDA and safe?
A: COVID-19 vaccines remain safe and effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the current Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 bivalent mRNA vaccines to be used for all doses administered to individuals 6 months of age and older, including for an additional dose or doses for certain populations.
Q: Where can I get a COVID-19 test?
A: COVID-19 testing is widely available in Tulsa County, including all local health care systems and many doctors’ offices. Hours, eligibility requirements, cost and other details may vary. Current federal agreements between pharmacies and Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) program will allow for continued no-cost COVID-19 testing of people who are uninsured. The Tulsa Health Department has partnered with two local organizations to offer testing at no cost for those who are uninsured and have COVID symptoms, were in close contact to someone COVID positive, or need a work release.
You can receive a free rapid or PCR COVID-19 test from an Access Medical Center location in Tulsa County.* To schedule a test, click here. Select “decide later” when it asks how you would like to pay and provide code “test 1, 2, 3” at your appointment. (Please note: Access Medical Center appointments includes brief medical assessment. We cannot pay for flu, strep or other tests the doctor may recommend).
You can also get a free rapid test from Tulsa Mobile COVID Testing.* To schedule a test, click here. Provide code “Test 1,2,3” when they contact you to set up an appointment.
*Availability is limited. Children or adults can be tested. Requires any type of photo ID (no state ID needed, immigration status does not matter).
Q: Are at-home tests still available?
A: At-home (or over-the-counter) tests may become more costly for people with insurance. After May 11, 2023, people with traditional Medicare will no longer receive free, at-home tests. Those with private insurance and Medicare Advantage (private Medicare plans) no longer will be guaranteed free at-home tests, but some insurers may continue to voluntarily cover them. For those on Medicaid, at-home tests will be covered at no-cost through September 2024. After that date, home test coverage will vary by state.
Uninsured and other people who cannot afford at-home tests may still be able to find them at a free clinic, community health center, library, or other local organization. Additionally, some tests have been provided by mail through the federal government, though supply is diminishing.
Q: What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?
A: If you have COVID-19, you can spread the virus to others. Regardless of vaccination status, there are precautions you can take to prevent spreading it to others: isolation, masking, and avoiding contact with people who are at high risk of getting very sick. Contact your primary care provider if you experience severe symptoms. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room if you experience emergency warning signs, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.
Q: What should I do if I was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
A: If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, there are precautions you can take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection. Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public. Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure even if you don’t develop symptoms. You can develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed.
Q: Is Tulsa Health Department no longer monitoring COVID-19?
A: The Tulsa Health Department remains dedicated to preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, particularly for populations at higher risk. We will continue working to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 after the PHE has ended.
Q: Will you still be updating COVID-19 data?
A: Ending the PHE declaration would revoke the CARES Act authority for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require laboratory result reporting, primarily affecting negative result reporting. This could result in states and local authorities receiving less consistent and comprehensive of SARS-CoV-2 laboratory result data which could also affect the quality of the data reported to CDC. The change would not affect calculation of CDC COVID-19 Community Levels used to determine prevention measures/mitigation strategies.
Q: Is Tulsa Health Department still contact tracing?
A: Contact tracing is the process health departments use to work with people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. Like other transmissible diseases, the Tulsa Health Department will continue to investigate outbreaks especially in high-risk settings and offer public health recommendations and mitigation strategies accordingly.