President Biden Lays Out His Plan to Prevent a Winter COVID Surge, Keep Economy and Schools Open
by Yehudit Garmaise
President Joe Biden laid out his plan today to fight another COVID surge this winter, after, in the last two days, two Americans, one in California and one in Minnesota, were found to be infected with the Omicron variant.
While the president has said in the last few days that Omicron is “a cause for concern,” he also said that the new variant is “not a cause for panic.”
“We will continue to prepare for all scenarios and work day and night to protect the American people, keep our schools open, keep our economy growing, and get this pandemic behind us.”
“We have the tools we need to confront this variant, to keep making progress in our fight against the virus,” the president said, “and we are using these tools to keep people safe, keep our schools open, and protect our economy.
Vaccination and boosters, of course, are the most important weapons the US has in its fight against COVID, however, the president said that Americans have to make an effort to come forth to get their shots.
“Instead of feeling divided, we want to get the nation to come together,” said Biden, who said that Americans should think of vaccination as “a patriotic response to the pandemic, not a denial of their basic rights.”
Nearly 100 million Americans who are eligible for boosters, for instance, have not yet gotten their booster shots, pointed out the president, who is helping pharmacies to expand their availability of vaccines and collaborating with Medicare and the American Association to encourage America’s 63 million seniors to get boosted by providing information at town halls and providing rides to booster clinics.
To make getting their shots easier and more convenient for entire families, Biden announced today nationwide family vaccination clinics, where “kids five and older can get their first shots, and parents and grandparents can get first or second shots or boosters: if it’s time,” explained the president, who said the new clinics will take place at community health centers and mobile locations.
In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will create new school COVID prevention policies that allow students to test for COVID, so as to remain in their classrooms, and not shut down entirely, when one student tests positive.
Biden is also expanding free at-home COVID testing, and he announced that health insurers now must reimburse 100% of the costs of those at-home tests, just as PCR tests in doctors’ offices are covered.
For Americans without private health insurance, the Biden administration will distribute 50 million free at-home COVID tests to community sites, such as health centers and rural clinics, so as to reach some of the hardest-hit and hardest-to-reach communities.
Biden is helping states and communities respond to cases by deploying more than 2,000 personnel in emergency response teams, delivering 3,200 ventilators and other supplies, and shipping more than 2.3 million courses of monoclonal antibody treatments, which effectively treat COVID and prevent patients from being hospitalized.
While foreign travelers to the US previously had three days before their departures to provide negative COVID tests, now international travelers must do so one day before they fly into the US.
“We will continue to act aggressively,” the president said.
flicker / Gage Skidmore