Blog Logo
Blog Logo

Christin M. Roberts


Contact information

View All News & Insights

The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Five Things to Know

Christin M. Roberts, Esq.,, (412) 594-5658

In the not-so-distant past, it seemed like the COVID-19 pandemic, and all it brought with it, would continue indefinitely. However, after 1,196 days, the public health emergency came to a determined end; on May 11, 2023, the White House ended the COVID-19 public health emergency. The end of the public health emergency was not intended to presume that life has returned to a pre-pandemic state. Accordingly, it is important for employers to understand what the end of the public health emergency means for businesses, and it is equally as important for employees to understand the changes moving forward.

The COVID-19 public health emergency, first declared on January 31, 2020, responded to a rapidly evolving and largely unknown virus sweeping across the globe. The public health emergency was enacted to “increase [our] abilities to detect and contain the coronavirus proactively and aggressively,” then Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced at the beginning of the pandemic. Over the next several weeks, legislation would evolve to expand medical services and provide time away from work, without penalty, for those with certain conditions or symptoms. Employers and employees alike grappled with how to adjust to these new requirements and regulations. The end of the public health emergency involves, in essence, ending most regulations related to health care coverage and access to treatment. However, while many of these requirements have ended, some are here to stay.

This article is not meant to be a complete reiteration of the effects of the end of the public health emergency but will identify five major areas of impact of which employers and employees should be aware.

Areas of Impact for Employers & Employees:

  1. Most importantly, employers must still consider employee accommodation requests that were issued during the pandemic that relate to COVID. Blanket denials of requests for accommodation will put employers in legal jeopardy as employees, and their lawyers, have over three years of history to argue that accommodations can be achieved for certain types of reasonable requests. It is important that employers still engage in a cooperative, interactive, and ongoing process with employees who request accommodations.
  2. Employers may still require certain employees to show proof of an approved vaccine against COVID-19. With that said, employers must engage in the interactive process to provide accommodations or exemptions to employees who qualify under the ADA or Title VII.
  3. Employers may still require certain employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if the PPE is necessary to ensure health and safety when performing certain job duties. This requirement is backed by federal law and existed prior to the public health emergency. Agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have an interest in public health and put specific regulations in place for individuals who perform certain tasks.
  4. Employees with COVID-19 and/or long COVID may still be considered disabled under the ADA. Any employee requesting an accommodation under the ADA due to COVID or long COVID must meet the ADA’s definition of “disability.”. Employers must treat employees with COVID or long COVID who qualify as disabled similarly to other employees who qualify as disabled under the ADA.
  5. The COBRA deadlines will return to pre-pandemic timelines sixty days after May 11, 2023, which is July 10, 2023. At that time, all COBRA extensions or tolls will no longer apply.

Although the world is no longer under the guidance of a “public health emergency,” many of the regulations and accommodations in the workplace are here to stay. If you have any questions about how the end of the public health emergency will affect your business or employment, please contact our Labor & Employment attorneys.

For more information, contact Christin Roberts at (412) 594-5658 or click here for more information about Christin.

June 30, 2023

Serving our clients successfully since 1900

The same attributes that have anchored over a century of success are still our guiding principles today.

Stay up-to-date on the latest News & Insights by subscribing to our alerts

Enter your email address below and be notified when we post new information.