The Public Health Emergency is Ending: Now What?


President Biden’s administration announced that the federal public health emergency and national emergency related to COVID-19 will expire on May 11, 2023, triggering an end to a number of flexibilities and policies that have enabled the federal government to waive or modify certain requirements to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

This resource provides a brief overview of how the end of the federal emergency declarations affect programmatic operations, governance, and fiscal flexibilities that Community Action Agencies (CAAs) may have operated under with respect to their federally-funded programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states also adopted their own flexibilities, some of which may be tied to the federal emergency declarations. These state law flexibilities primarily relate to corporate governance matters under state nonprofit corporation laws, open meeting laws, and public records requirements. In the State Law Considerations section, we summarize some of the ways these may be impacted by the end of the federal emergency declarations.



The public health emergency (PHE) was first declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 31, 2020. Under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, a PHE is in place for 90 days unless it is renewed or terminated. HHS has renewed the PHE many times since the initial declaration, most recently on February 9, 2023, and it is now due to expire on May 11, 2023.

Former President Trump also declared a national emergency related to COVID-19 on March 1, 2020. Under Section 201 of the National Emergencies Act, such a declaration remains in place until the President terminates it or fails to issue a continuation notice annually, or if Congress passes a joint resolution terminating the declaration. The national emergency declaration was continued in February 2021 and again in February 2022. President Biden subsequently announced in February 2023 that the administration plans to terminate the COVID-19 national emergency on May 11, 2023, coinciding with the expiration of the current PHE declaration.

This resource is part of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Legal Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Center. It was created by Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc. (CAPLAW) in the performance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services Cooperative Agreement – Award Number 90ET0482-03. Any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.