Today, May 11, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID-19 federal public health emergency declaration (PHE) will officially end, marking a significant milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD) is grateful for the support of the community in navigating through this historic pandemic together.
Coverage for COVID-19 testing will change. The requirement for private insurance companies to cover COVID-19 tests without cost sharing, both over-the-counter (OTC) and laboratory tests, will end and individuals should reach out to their insurance provider for details. Residents are encouraged to order free COVID-19 testing kits still available through the federal government (four tests per residential address). Free at-home COVID tests can be ordered at https://special.usps.com/testkits or by calling 1-800-232-0233. With the ending of COVID-19 federal public health emergency declaration, the operations of the three Expanded COVID-19 Testing trailers located in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Lompoc will cease on June 23, 2023. Until then, residents can continue to make an appointment by visiting https://publichealthsbc.org/testing/.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will be transitioning their publicly available COVID data after today. As a result, the local publicly available COVID data for Santa Barbara County will also be modified. SBCPHD has been committed to providing our community with critical data on COVID for the three years of the pandemic. From daily press conferences to guidance on how to prevent transmission, SBCPHD has been resolute in being transparent and will continue to share available data from CDC and CDPH accordingly.
PHD encourages residents to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Individuals can check if they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html. Local Pharmacy vaccine locations can be found by visiting https://www.vaccines.gov/, and residents can make appointments at https://myturn.ca.gov/. Individuals with primary care should call their provider’s office for more information or to set up an appointment. COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment continue to be available for patients at the County’s Health Care Centers in Carpinteria, the Franklin Center, Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria, as well. For more information about these locations please visit: https://www.countyofsb.org/2100/Health-Care-Centers.
The FDA has recently authorized the bivalent booster for all doses starting at six months of age, as well as a second bivalent booster for individuals aged 65 and older who have had their primary vaccination series and are at least four months out from a previous bivalent booster shot. If a person tests positive for COVID-19 after May 11, they should not delay treatment. Staying home when sick, frequent hand washing, mask-wearing in high-risk settings, and social distancing are still the most effective ways to keep COVID-19 transmission low.
Health and Human Services Statement and more information regarding the end of the COVID-19 PHE can be found at: Fact Sheet: End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency | HHS.gov.