(Bloomberg) -- The US government will extend the Covid-19 public-health emergency past mid-July, a move to continue pandemic-era policies as the nearly 2-1/2-year outbreak drags on. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly renewed the public-health emergency since implementing it in January 2020. The declaration allows the US to grant emergency authorizations of drugs, vaccines and other medical countermeasures, and has enabled millions of Americans to get health coverage through Medicaid, among other benefits. 

On April 16, HHS extended the public-health emergency an additional 90 days through mid-July. The declaration will be extended beyond that period, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named as the details aren’t yet public. That means various measures to relax restrictions in how care is accessed across the health system will continue.

An HHS spokesperson said that the public-health emergency currently remains in effect, and the department will continue to provide a 60-day notice to states before any possible termination or expiration.

National health organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have lobbied for the designation to continue.  

Last week, the groups wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the Biden administration to maintain the emergency “until it is clear that the global pandemic has receded and the capabilities authorized by the PHE are no longer necessary.”

“This will help prevent any future surges from threatening the health and safety of patients and the ability of health-care professionals to care for them,” the statement said, citing concerns about future variants. 

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress have encouraged the administration to unwind the declaration and return to pre-pandemic status. 

(Updates starting in third paragraph.)

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