President Biden stepped up his plan to tackle the rapidly spreading Omicron variant on Tuesday, announcing new test sites and military help to relieve overburdened hospitals.
This follows the administration’s strategy, announced on December 2, to keep businesses open and respond quickly to flares during the colder months. The Omicron variant is now dominant, accounting for more than 70% of Covid-19 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While cases among vaccinated individuals are increasing because Omicron is highly transmissible, symptoms appear to be less severe. In contrast, unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill and dying, the White House said in a report. declaration.
The president is mobilizing an additional 1,000 troops to deploy to hospitals affected by the pandemic and activating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response teams to help states and hospitals increase capacity. The government is also sending millions of N-95 masks, billions of gloves, tens of millions of gowns and more than 100,000 ventilators from the national strategic stockpile of medical supplies to hospitals.
More home testing options will also be available. The administration plans to purchase 500 million rapid home tests this winter for free distribution. Sites are also being set up to distribute home test kits. The testing strategy can also help companies manage the president’s federal vaccine mandate, starting Jan. 4, which requires unvaccinated employees of companies with more than 100 workers to present negative Covid-19 test results. before going to work.
Finally, the plan includes the creation of more vaccination clinics as a first line defense. FEMA sets up pop-up vaccination sites across the country, with hundreds of federal vaccinators working them. “Our vaccines are the most powerful tools we have – they protect people from serious illness and death, and boosters give people optimal protection,” the White House said in the statement.