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The lasting effects of COVID-19

By Morgan Buresh


Missouri has seen close to 1.8 million confirmed cases and nearly 23,000 deaths related to COVID-19. 

After three years, the nation is beginning to transition out of the emergency phase.

The Biden administration announced in January the national public health emergency related to COVID-19 would end on May 11. The president signed a bill last month to end it.

Lisa Cox, communications director for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said while COVID-19 will never go away, public health officials now have a better grasp on how the coronavirus spread and its effects.

“It was a hard road, a hard three years to get to this point. I don't think anyone would disagree with that,” Cox said. “But it feels like sort of an end in sight.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows in Missouri, there have been 1,788,856 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 22,908 deaths.

In Boone County, there have been 56,091 confirmed cases and 299 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the city of Columbia’s website, with one new case in the past day.

“This was a real virus,” said Dr. Ayaaz Habibullah, a primary care provider with Boone Health Medical Group. “There were lots of people that lost their lives, lots of people that became infected have long-term symptoms.”

Habibullah said compared to three years ago, there is much more knowledge about the disease and more concrete answers to give patients. He said while the impact of the virus is not as great as it was a few years ago, it’s important to remember COVID-19 is real and persistent.

He encourages people to continue to take the disease seriously and practice habits such as hand washing and social distancing when sick.

“There's definitely been progress, but then there's also that sense of worry that even though the pandemic may be officially over, per certain guidelines and groups, you don't want people to regress,” Habibullah said.

Habibullah said he has seen a recent uptick in patients testing positive for COVID-19.

"Just because there's an end doesn't mean it's not there anymore,” Habibullah said. “It's there. It's just not there like it used to be.”

COVID-19 care coverage changes

During the public health emergency, people who were on Medicaid were able to stay continuously enrolled. As a result of the end of the public health emergency, states have begun reevaluating people’s Medicaid eligibility and will start taking ineligible people off the rolls.

Renewals in Missouri will begin in July, and the Missouri Department of Social Services said the state has until May 2024 to complete all renewals.

Emily Young, Family and Community Services Program Officer at Central Missouri Community Action, said 70,000 Missouri households will be reviewed for Medicaid coverage each month, totaling 1.4 million people. She said while many will lose eligibility, CMCA is committed to making sure people don’t go without coverage.

“By not having the coverage to get preventative care -- being able to go to the doctor, maybe taking medications that you need to -- it will affect other areas of their lives in a negative way,” Young said.

Young said CMCA is wanting to get the word out about Medicaid renewals and make sure everyone who is still eligible to renew does so.

She said if people are eligible to requalify, they will be notified by the state. For people who no longer meet the income guidelines, Young said CMCA is working with the state to find other coverage options.

"We don't want to go back to under insured, under-served members for health care,” Young said.

Residents can go online for help with the renewal process. 

Other healthcare changes beginning Friday include costs of COVID-19 supplies. The Kaiser Family Foundation said the largest impact will likely be the cost of COVID-19 tests.

Cox said in Missouri, most people will not notice a change in supplies or accessibility.

The State of Missouri received $2.083 billion of federal funding in April 2020 to support Missouri’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of which including funding for testing, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and more.

A $21,171910 payment from that total was made to Boone County on May 6, 2020, according to data from the Missouri Accountability Portal website. A $9,003,720 payment was made to Cole County on the same day, according to the same dataset, while Callaway County got $5,249,247. Moniteau County received $1,892,606 and Montgomery County had $1,355,163.

“It won't be like a light switch and things will no longer be available,” Cox said. “We'll definitely still have a widespread access to testing, to vaccines, to therapeutics for treatment, and all of those resources will still be available.”

Both the Boone and Cole County Health Departments said their services will not change at the end of the public health emergency.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

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