Biden assures Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 that they can continue with holiday plans despite the Omicron rise
Biden assures Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 that they can continue with holiday plans despite the Omicron rise

Biden assures Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 that they can continue with holiday plans despite the Omicron rise


President Joe Biden aimed to reassure vaccinated Americans that they can still continue with their vacation plans without fear of becoming seriously ill, and announced a series of new efforts to combat a wave of Covid-19 cases in the United States.

“I know some Americans wonder if you can safely celebrate the holiday with your family and friends. The answer is, yes, you can, if you and those you celebrate with have been vaccinated, especially if you’ve got your booster. -shot, ā€¯Biden said in a speech at the White House on Tuesday.

The speech, which came a few days before Christmas, reflects Biden’s renewed focus on the coronavirus pandemic as anxiety rises around the country with the steep rise in cases and concerns about whether new restrictive measures will be needed to limit the spread.

Biden repeatedly stressed throughout the speech that the current moment is different from March 2020, when the coronavirus strengthened its grip on the United States.

“The second question people are asking is, ‘Are we going back to March 2020?’ “The answer is absolutely no. No,” said Biden.

The president told vaccinated Americans that they should feel safe celebrating the holiday they had planned if they took the right precautions, but he also warned the tens of millions of Americans who have so far refused to be shot that they are at high risk of becoming ill or hospitalized. And he also invoked the name of his predecessor to encourage Americans to get their booster shots.

“I got my booster shot as soon as they were available,” the president said, “and just the other day, former President Trump announced that he had received his booster shot.”

“It may be one of the few things he and I agree on,” Biden added. “People with booster shots are very protected. Join them, join us.”

During his speech, Biden announced the purchase of half a billion at home fast Covid-19 testsone of a series of new steps he unveiled as the country faces a potentially crippling wave of infections in the winter.

The 500 million new tests will be made available next month and will reach Americans by mail, according to the White House.

“To be clear, we are not sending a test to every home in the country,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “We give people an opportunity, another opportunity or opportunity to … go to a website and request a test if they prefer to have that test at home. Not everyone will do that. But we want that people who want to do it, who want to be tested, who want to request testing that way, have the ability to do (it). ”

The president told reporters after his speech that the current lack of Covid-19 tests in the United States “is not a failure,” but rather a reflection of a dramatic increase in cases.

“No, it’s not,” he said, “because Covid is spreading so fast.”

“The alarms go off,” said the President, adding, “I do not think anyone had expected this to spread as fast as it did … then it was suddenly as if everyone hurried to the counter. a great, great haste. ”

“I knew it would come,” Biden insisted, “so what I was trying to do was meet with the companies to use the Defense Production Act to get half a billion more tests.”

Asked by another journalist what took so long to increase the production of tests, Biden seemed annoyed by the question.

“Come on, ‘What took so long?'” He asked. “What took so long is that it did not take long at all.”

The administration is still working to determine how many tests each household can request. Senior officials in the administration were unable to provide any new details on exactly when the website to request the tests will launch and how quickly the tests will be sent out. Psaki said on Tuesday that the expectation is that the website will be able to sustain an increase in inbound web traffic.

And a senior official said during a briefing with CNN on Tuesday morning that the administration is still “processing all the details. And we want them in the coming weeks.”

The official said the “first deliveries” of these tests will take place in January and that the website will launch “in January or around January as well.” The official also said the White House is “processing all the details” when asked how Americans without Internet access could secure tests.

The new test shipment scheme came under remarks that were to underline the White House’s plan to confront what is expected to be a large increase in cases driven by the now dominant Omicron variant in the coming weeks. Already, cases are rising rapidly in areas around the country and hospitals are approaching capacity.

Lines to test centers have stretched for blocks in certain areas, including the Northeast, leading the White House to develop plans to open new federal test sites in New York City before Christmas.

Distribution of free home tests to all Americans was written off by the White House as recently as this month. Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked earlier this month when asked if tests should be free and handed out, available everywhere.

“Shall we just send one to every American?” she asked.

But on Tuesday in the briefing room, Psaki expressed some regret over her previous comments.

“There’s not a day goes by where I do not leave this podium and wish I would have said something with greater coherence or more precision or additional information,” Psaki said.

“There were a lot of good questions about testing, and during that briefing, I conveyed a lot of information about our expansion of testing, about the 15 million tests that we made available about the 20,000 free test sites,” she continued. “Should I have included the extra context? … Yes, when I go back, I wish I had done that.”

Among the president’s new initiatives is a plan to prepare 1,000 military service members to deploy to congested hospitals across the country in January and February, administration officials said. These service members will include doctors, nurses, doctors and other military medical personnel.

An official said, “if God wills,” the full 1,000 would not be necessary, “but if we do, they are ready and they are mobilized.”

Biden also announced new vaccination sites and increased access to vaccines and will expose hundreds of additional federal vaccinators.

Although demand for vaccines has declined in recent months, the increase caused by the Delta variant earlier this year led to increased demand for vaccinations in some of the hardest-hit areas.

Biden also addressed FEMA’s efforts to expand hospital capacity and to place medical supplies in locations where stocks may run low in the coming weeks.

In his remarks, the President acknowledged a likely increase in cases – also among vaccinated – but emphasized the drastically different results for those with shots and those not protected by vaccines.

Biden and his team have insisted that federal lockdown recommendations are not in the cards this time. And in his remarks, Biden focused on steps primarily to prevent a paralysis of the U.S. public health system rather than on efforts to completely stop the spread of the virus.

The White House plan, announced Tuesday, does not send tests to all Americans; instead, people would request the tests online instead. Those who use them do not have to report their findings to public health authorities, officials said.

The pressure on that shift, a senior administration official insisted that the new plan “builds” on the administration’s previous test initiatives and pointed to increased supply.

The official also pointed out that “the demand for tests … has increased now” in the midst of the Omicron rise and the holiday season, saying the government’s purchase of 500 million tests is an extra layer on top of the existing commercial supply.

The administration had already announced a plan requiring health insurance providers to reimburse plan holders for the cost of home tests; this initiative will remain in place next year.

This story has been updated with further details.

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