News Item

The COVID Public Health Emergency is Ending: What Does This Mean?

posted on Friday, May 05, 2023.

On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a national public health emergency to help address the growing global threat of COVID. After more than three years, the public health emergency ends on May 11, 2023. While this does not mean COVID-19 is gone or no longer a threat, it does mean some major changes are occurring.

COVID vaccines are still available

The Public Health Department will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines and boosters at its City Hall Clinic (730 Washington Avenue, Room 4 / Lower Level). Appointments can be scheduled by calling 262-636-9431 and these vaccines will continue to be free through the Public Health Department regardless of insurance status. You can also contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to find out what vaccination options they have available for you.

Various options for COVID tests remain

You can still buy tests in stores, pharmacies, and online, and if you have health insurance, your insurer may reimburse the cost of the test or cover it up-front. If you are sick and have private insurance or Medicare, your insurance should cover a test with a doctor’s referral.

There are also still ways to receive a free at-home test:

  • Say Yes! COVID Home Test. You can order 10 free COVID tests a month from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services through this program. Visit to order.
  • US Postal Service. You can order four (4) free COVID tests from the federal government, which are delivered via the US Postal Service. Visit to order.

Guidance for those with COVID is not changing

Isolation guidance for those who test positive for COVID-19 will not be changing with the end of the public health emergency. While Public Health is no longer contacting each individual with a positive test reported to us, the above guidance should still be followed.

Other forms of COVID-19 investigation, as well as investigation into other communicable diseases, will continue, including case investigation and contact tracing related to outbreaks in schools, daycares, and other congregate settings. This means it is still possible you will hear from the Public Health Department in the future.

If you need help or additional information, call our main phone line at 262-636-9201. You can always find the latest guidance on isolation at

The COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth service will continue through December 31, 2023. This program, run through the WI Department of Health Services, provides free at-home COVID treatment, which can prevent you from becoming seriously ill. You can call or go online to access the Telehealth Portal and find out if you are eligible. You will complete some forms and then be matched with a licensed clinician to see if any of the antiviral treatments are a good fit. Once prescribed, they can either be picked up at a pharmacy or delivered to your home.

Preventing COVID infections is still important

The ending of these COVID public health emergency declarations does not mean COVID is gone. Public health experts continue to recommend that everyone get vaccinated, get the latest booster when available, use an at-home test if you’re exposed or have symptoms, stay home if you are sick, and wear a mask when COVID levels are high in the community.

Masks continue to be available for pick up at Racine Fire Department stations throughout the community. 

Pandemic changes to other programs are also affected 

The ending of the Emergency Declaration may also affect some community resources and programs put in place during the pandemic. Learn more about the following programs: