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COVID-19: WHO Ends Global Health Emergency, CDC Shifts Virus Indicators

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May 9, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 5, 2023, that it no longer classifies COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern.

The decision comes following a May 4 International Health Regulations Emergency Committee meeting where members recognized the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, the decline in COVID-19–related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, concurred with the committee’s advice and determined that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue.

CDC to Use Hospitalization Data as Primary Disease Indicator

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) announced May 5 that after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends on May 11, the agency will use COVID-19–associated hospitalization data as a primary indicator of the virus’ nationwide presence.

The agency previously announced it no longer would update its COVID-19 Community Levels tracker that monitors the spread of the infection, and labs no longer will be required to report COVID-19 testing data to the federal government. Current surveillance indicators found that COVID-19 hospital admission levels were on par with COVID-19 community levels.

Additionally, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, announced May 5 her impending departure from the agency, effective June 30.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Director of Policy Rob Nelb, MPH, at or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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