The federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration officially expired on May 11, bringing big changes to how the U.S. handles the viral disease and its spread.

After the declaration ended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance to align with the latest data and altered how it collected and shared COVID-19 updates.

Despite the changes, the CDC assured the public that most tools, including the COVID vaccines, treatments and testing, would remain available. But there's a catch in the post-pandemic era.

"Access to COVID-19 vaccines will generally not be affected for now. The U.S. government is currently distributing free COVID-19 vaccines for all adults and children. To help keep communities safe from COVID-19, HHS remains committed to maximizing continued access to COVID-19 vaccines," the CDC explained on its website.

On the other hand, at-home testing kits would no longer be covered by insurance providers. However, the CDC urged those who want to avail of free tests to check out the agency's No Cost COVID-19 Testing Locator, which lists all of the community and pharmacy partners that still provide free testing for those without health insurance.

Meanwhile, treatments or medication to prevent severe COVID-19, such as Paxlovid, will only be available for free while supplies last, as per the CDC. Once it runs out, people will have to pay for the drug out of their pockets. They should also check with their insurance provider if they are willing to cover it.

The CDC noted that it will continue to provide sustainable, high-impact and timely information about COVID-19 cases. However, there will be changes to the frequency, source and availability of the updates.

On May 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared the COVID-19 pandemic over after observing a steady decline in hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus. However, the organization admitted that the virus remains a global threat as it continues to mutate and spread.

"While we're not in the crisis mode, we can't let our guard down," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove previously said. The WHO's COVID-19 technical lead and head of its program on emerging diseases added that SARS-CoV-2 is "here to stay."