The White House has a new plan for COVID-19 that aims to get things back to normal
The White House has a new plan for COVID-19 that aims to get things back to normal

The White House has a new plan for COVID-19 that aims to get things back to normal

The White House unveils a new roadmap for the COVID-19 pandemic, one that envisions life returning to normal after a two-year crisis, allowing people to be tested and treated for the disease while staying on vigilant against new varieties and outbreaks.

“We will no longer let COVID-19 dictate how we live,” the White House said in a 96-page report outlining the plan.

The plan sets four goals:

  • Protect against and treat COVID-19
  • Prepare for new varieties
  • Prevent company and school closures
  • Help vaccinate the rest of the world and save lives
  • The latest feature of the plan is a goal to offer a one-stop “test to treat” system at pharmacies and local health centers starting in March – places where people can confirm whether they have COVID and be treated with antiviral drugs on site.

    The plan needs support from Congress to pay for it

    The plan calls on Congress to increase funding for the ongoing vigilance against COVID to purchase treatments, strengthen test supplies, and prepare new variants.

    Last spring and early summer, as the number of COVID cases dropped, the emerging market for rapid home testing dried up. Manufacturers slowed production. So when delta and omicron hikes hit, there were not enough tests to meet demand. The White House claims it will require government support to ensure tests are available when Americans need them.

    More funding will also help with efforts to discover new variants by improving data collection, sequencing and wastewater monitoring systems, the White House said.

    The plan calls for continued support to help vaccinate the world. So far, the administration has distributed 475 million free vaccine doses to 112 countries, but that is far below its 1.2 billion dose promise. Vaccination of the world is seen as the key to preventing the next variant.

    Immunocompromised people will have priority for protection and treatments

    The roadmap also places emphasis on ensuring that people with the greatest risk of serious illness from COVID do not feel left behind when normal activities resume.

    The White House says it will prioritize protection for people who are immunocompromised, as well as people with disabilities and older adults, giving them priority access to treatments and pushing to ensure they get boosters.

    There are also plans to increase resources to develop treatments for long-term COVID-19 and to provide support to people who have lost a relative to the disease.

    Sarahbeth Maney / AP

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    AP

    President Biden speaks with lawmakers after giving his State of the Union speech Tuesday.

    Biden showed a preview of the plan in his State of the Union speech

    Biden heralded this “new normal” by walking mask free down the aisle in the chamber of the house to give his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, after which he paused after the speech while chatting and taking pictures.

    It was a picture of normality that reflects the reality that many Americans have been living in for months – and a Biden urged everyone else to embrace and told the Americans that it’s time for the offices in the center to be refilled and that the students are in class.

    “I know some are talking about ‘living with COVID-19,'” President Biden said in his speech. “We will never just accept living with COVID-19. We will continue to fight the virus just as we do other diseases. And because this is a virus that mutates and spreads, we will stay vigilant.”

    Last summer, Biden said the U.S. was “closer than ever to declaring our independence from this deadly virus” only to be burned by increases in cases from the delta and omicron variants. This time, the management plan and the messages around it are more guarded.

    There are unforeseen opportunities for new varieties and a plan to build up stocks of tests and treatments. The White House warns that if there is a new increase, some of the remedial measures, such as masks, may also return.

    “We will continue to fight the virus as we do other diseases. And because this is a virus that is mutating and spreading, we will stay vigilant,” Biden said in his State of the Union speech.

    Copyright 2022 NPR. Visit https://www.npr.org to see more.


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