The AHA today urged the Health and Human Services Secretary to extend the public health emergency beyond its current July 25, 2020 expiration date so “health care providers can continue to offer the most efficient and effective care possible during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.”

HHS Secretary Azar Jan. 31 declared a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenges that our members have faced — rapid bed capacity increases, overnight telehealth system overhauls and implementation, and personal protective equipment acquisition — have been nothing short of extraordinary,” AHA said. “However, with your help, hospitals and health systems, have used every tool at their disposal to respond to this unprecedented challenge. Without your action and the impact of the public health declaration, these challenges would have been exponentially more difficult to overcome, which is why we are asking for continued action from HHS moving forward. We anticipate the challenges associated with COVID-19 that our members and communities face every day will continue throughout several months, and potentially another entire year if we continue to experience increased COVID-19 cases.”

AHA said the public health emergency should be extended until a number of criteria are met.

See the AHA letter for more details.

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