RHA Remains Vigilant as COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency Expires

May 10, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Tomorrow marks the end of the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act.

As the world transitions into this new stage, it is important to recognize the pandemic is not over. We are simply no longer in an emergency phase. However, we can keep the COVID-19 virus in check. We need to remain vigilant as the possibility remains that new variants will emerge and need to be addressed.

“The lessons of the pandemic should not be forgotten,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “Good hand washing, masking in crowds, and social distancing when you have symptoms remain important preventive measures to stop the spread of viruses.”

Even in a non-emergency phase, the U.S. is still on pace towards 55,000 COVID-19 deaths this year, which is the equivalent of a severe flu season.

Public health officials remain most concerned about the population of people 65 years of age and older. These individuals, and those who are immunocompromised, should continue to receive their COVID-19 booster vaccinations.


Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, RHA is committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies.