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California residents have an additional 6 months of COVID-19 support

Since February 2020 there have been more than 994,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County, and over 5,800 COVID-related deaths. Thursday marks the end of the federal Public Health Emergency but COVID-19 is still making people sick and people are still dying.

“It's really important to make this distinction of the government declaring that policies are changing is not the same thing as the virus has gone away. These are two very different things right,” said Rebecca Fielding-Miller, an assistant professor at UC San Diego’s School of Public Health.

The end of the national Public Health Emergency means the end of many COVID-inspired policies. But, inCalifornia, state law extends free access to COVID-19 testing, therapeutics and vaccines for six months.


In addition, San Diegans will still be able to get up to eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month covered by their health insurance provider through Nov. 11.

“Even with the new variants, the vaccines don't do as good a job at completely stopping infection and its tracks,” Fielding-Miller said. “But they do a beautiful job of keeping you out of the hospital. Keeping you from getting very, very ill, and that's extremely important.”

Fielding-Miller also said she thinks many people don't realize how accessible the therapeutic, Paxlovid, is.

"Pharmacists can prescribe Paxlovid,” Fielding-Miller said. “Telehealth doctors can prescribe Paxlovid. So, you don’t even have to go to your primary care physician to get this medication that has been shown to both decrease immediate symptoms and the risk of long COVID.”

Fielding-Miller said the California state law adding six months to some Public Health Emergency provisions is important in terms of health equity.


“We also have one of the biggest, one of the most diverse states in that country. There's a lot of income inequality as part of that, and so these measures have also really extended the social safety net,” Fielding-Miller said.

Those who have questions about how the end of the federal COVID-19 health emergency will affect them should contact their health insurance company or the Department of Health Care Services at