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Tippecanoe County Health Officer worries about future of pandemic as federal COVID-19 funds run out

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

COVID-19 numbers in Tippecanoe County have remained low - but that hasn’t stopped health officials from worrying about the future of the pandemic.

In Congress, requests for additional COVID funding have stalled, and experts say that testing and vaccinations will no longer be free for the uninsured - requiring an out of pocket payment.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said a reduced federal response is especially concerning in the event of another surge.

“Whereas it’d be better - not only from a public health standpoint but from a societal standpoint - to start thinking about possible future emergencies and having the infrastructure and funding in place to get those systems up and running very quickly,” he said.

Federal funding supports local access to free testing and vaccinations, as well as monoclonal antibody treatments and treatment of uninsured patients hospitalized for COVID.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just approved an additional booster shot for people over the age of 50 and the immunocompromised.

Adler said that as federal funds decline, it’s likely that this latest booster shot will no longer be offered free of charge.

“So they would be something that would be billed to a patient's insurance or the patient would pay out of pocket,” he said. “We’ve been so fortunate in this country – since the beginning of 2021, our federal government has basically paid for the COVID-19 vaccines for everyone who is eligible… that’s a change that will likely have a noticeable impact for many people.”

For now, Adler said Tippecanoe County’s COVID numbers have been low, and he hopes they stay that way. On the CDC’s website, the county is currently listed as having a “low” community risk level for the spread of the virus.

But, Adler said, he worries about spikes in the virus reported out of the United Kingdom, because the United States usually sees a surge not long after the UK.