COVID-19 Information Page
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order an additional 4 free at-home tests beginning November 20. If you did not order tests this fall (after the 9/25/23 announcement), you may place two orders for a total of 8 tests. To receive free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to your home, go to https://www.covid.gov/tests
The Provincetown Board of Health has a limited supply of free COVID-19 rapid test kits (containing 5 tests per box):
Here are the latest recommendations about the updated COVID vaccine, approved September 2023 by the FDA and CDC. Studies indicate that the new booster offers protection against the omicron sub-variant EG.5 (aka ‘Eris’) and other strains currently circulating in the U.S., and protection against severe disease and death, particularly for those who are elderly or immune compromised.
The Massachusetts state COVID-19 public health emergency ended in alignment with the federal public health emergency. The Biden administration plans to end the COVID-19 national emergency declarations on May 11, 2023. Here is a link to Department of Health and Human Services "roadmap" for transitioning out of the COVID emergency.
The World Health Organization met on May 5, 2023 and determined that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Global risk remains; however, high population-level immunity from infection, vaccination, or both, and improved clinical case management have significantly reduced the weekly number of COVID-19 related deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions compared to the beginning of the pandemic. While COVID-19 continues to evolve, the currently circulating variants do not appear to be associated with increased severity.
Does this mean COVID-19 is over?
Ending the COVID-19 emergency declarations does not mean the virus has been eradicated. States of emergencies are intended to be temporary, and when emergency powers expire, that does not mean that all policies related to COVID-19 end. Continue to consult CDC’s website for guidance as well as guidance from the MA Department of Public Health.
What COVID-19 policies will be affected?
Under the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, the government has had more flexibility in a number of health-related areas—including fully covering the cost of most COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines. When the emergency declaration ends, coverage for COVID-19 will become more like coverage for other medical conditions. You can review the Kaiser Family Foundation’s summary of policies and provisions related to the COVID-19 national emergencies.as it continues to evolve. According to press releases noting that individual insurers can choose to continue providing COVID rapid tests for free, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care have decided to end this benefit.
Beginning May 12, the insurers will cover only the costs of COVID tests ordered by clinicians. This is similar to how the companies cover other kinds of medical tests. Seniors on Medicare also will lose access to free rapid COVID tests — unless they are covered by a Medicare Advantage plan that chooses to offer this benefit.
Tests will remain free for people on Medicaid programs, including MassHealth, until Sept. 30, 2024, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Commonwealth will no longer require masks in healthcare settings.
Vaccines and therapeutics provided by the federal government will essentially remain unaffected.
How Can I Continue to Make Informed Risk Assessments?
- Overall Respiratory Disease Indicators: A new dashboard that features a snapshot of key metrics including the percentage of emergency department visits that are due to acute respiratory disease, the current severity of flu and COVID-19, and current percentage of people who have gotten the current season’s flu vaccine and the percentage who have gotten the updated COVID-19 vaccine. This dashboard allows people to quickly assess what their risk of respiratory infection is so they can make choices about how to protect themselves.
- Respiratory Illness Dashboard: A new dashboard that uses data from emergency departments to track visits and hospital admissions associated with acute respiratory disease, COVID-19, flu, and RSV. This dashboard includes breakdowns by age, reported sex, race, Hispanic ethnicity, and geography, and permits comparison with other recent seasons.
- COVID-19 Cases and Deaths: An updated COVID-19 dashboard that includes information about trends in reported cases and deaths associated with COVID-19. This dashboard includes breakdowns by age, reported sex, race, Hispanic ethnicity, and geography. Although case counts do not represent all people with COVID-19 at a given time because of the prevalence of at-home tests, evaluating whether the trend is increasing or decreasing can still be informative.
- Influenza Dashboard: An updated flu dashboard includes the information which was previously shown during the flu season (October through April) but now includes deaths from flu and will be updated year-round.
Anyone experiencing COVID symptoms should stay away from others, seek testing, and contact their healthcare provider. For clinical COVID-19 testing locally, call Outer Cape Health Services, 508-905-2888. Individuals with moderate illness or severe illness or with a weakened immune system, should isolate through day 10 and consult your doctor before ending isolation.
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Click here for 2020 archived COVID-19 information.