CHICAGO — After three years, the COVID-19 public health emergency is officially over Thursday.

But because Covid is still a threat, both Chicago and Cook County are taking the next steps to ensure care continues.

One big change people will notice is that Medicaid recipients will now have to renew their coverage with the state, which they did not need to do for the past three years.

Members will need to complete their paperwork by their individual date. Cook County has set up resources to help through it’s website and help line.

Also, vaccinations and tests may no longer be fully covered. Stroger Hospital and Cook County health clinics, however, will continue to offer community COVID-19 vaccinations and tests.

In Chicago, public immunity is up and hospitalizations are down, but public health officials warn Covid did not go away.

“I am the happiest person out there that COVID doesn’t need to be the top of mind at this point,” Arwady said. “It doesn’t mean it’s gone, it doesn’t mean the health department is not continuing to work on monitoring and responding if necessary. But it does mean we are at a different point. We have vaccines and treatments that can really help keep people out of the hospital and keep people from dying.”

Arwady encouraged continued testing for COVID with the allergy season in full swing.

“COVID is still more dangerous than a regular cold, especially if there are people who are older with underlying conditions. If you got a positive test, you should be staying home for those five days and be wearing a mask days 6-10. None of that changes, even with the emergency ending.”

Cook County health officials hosted a Facebook LIVE Q&A with a panel of experts to answer the public’s questions on Thursday.

To support individuals in this process, Cook County Health has created resources for Medicaid members, health care providers, and community-based organizations in seven languages, available at Those with questions can also call Cook County Health’s Financial Assistance line at 312-864-8200 to speak to a financial counselor.