Less than one day after President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar announced that the national public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 will be extended. By law, the HHS Secretary must renew the declaration every ninety days for urgent flexibilities to remain active. The renewal takes effect on October 23 and can be further renewed before January 21, 2021.
Two weeks ago, USDA extended crucial WIC flexibilities until thirty days after the expiration of the public health emergency. With Secretary Azar’s decision, WIC flexibilities are now in place through at least February 20, 2021.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association, issued the following statement in response to the renewal of the public health emergency declaration:
“We are not out of the woods yet. The COVID-19 public health crisis is far from a conclusion. Secretary Azar is making the right decision to extend necessary flexibilities that enable federal programs to continue to respond to the health and nutrition needs of communities across the country. WIC is one of many programs that depend on the public health declaration, and the continued emergency permits providers to provide remote services or otherwise reduce in-person requirements within the program. With this decision, WIC can continue to remotely and safely meet the nutrition needs of new and expectant parents, babies, and young children without endangering the lives of participants, clinic staff, or their families.
“With the White House and Secretary Azar recognizing the ongoing nature of the emergency, it is urgent that Washington immediately deliver economic relief for families struggling from the multitude of crises and consequences spawned by this pandemic. This week, Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives advanced sensible proposals, including bipartisan ideas that strengthen the federal response to the growing crisis of child hunger. The Senate and the White House now need to get on board with the House’s proposal. With kids going hungry in America, there is not a day to waste. The American people need COVID relief now.”