Biden has a new strategy in Omicron, including home testing

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President Biden warned on Tuesday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is expected to cause “potentially large” innovative infections and urged Americans to get vaccinated because “it’s the only thing that needs to be done.”

“Omicron is a serious and potentially deadly business for unvaccinated people,” Biden said as he announced a plan by the administration to combat a coronavirus surge in the winter. “If you’re not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to worry … Unvaccinated people have a significantly higher risk of ending up in hospital or even dying.”

Biden’s speech came when federal officials warned that Omicron is so contagious that it is expected to cause more innovative cases. It has surpassed the Delta variant as the leading cause of infection faster than expected, and federal officials said Monday that nearly three-quarters of new cases last week were caused by Omicron.

Biden encouraged those eligible to receive a booster vaccine, adding that fully vaccinated people should not change their vacation plans.

“Some Americans are wondering if you can celebrate the holidays safely with family and friends,” Biden said. “The answer is, ‘Yes, you can,’ if you and those you’re celebrating are vaccinated.”

He also noted that former President Trump recently revealed that he received a booster shot.
According to public opinion polls, Trump supporters are among those who have rejected vaccination the most. The former president caused widespread boos when he admitted to receiving another dose of vaccine during a live program on Sunday with former Fox News presenter Bill O’Reilly.

In his speech, Biden outlined strategies to curb the effect of the contagious Omicron variant that indicated he had taken the administration by surprise. “I don’t think anyone anticipated that this would spread as quickly as it did,” he said.

The plan released on Tuesday includes the deployment of 1,000 soldiers to hospitals and the creation of more vaccination sites. The administration will also buy 500 million quick home tests that will be available to Americans starting next month for free.

Some experts were concerned that the answer was too weak, too late.

“These actions will really be extremely helpful, especially to strengthen the capacity of the hospital,” said Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “However, it is disappointing that the acceleration and availability of tests at home will only come from January, when there is now such an urgent need and that was a foreseeable need.”

Lindsey Dawson, associate director of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said 500 million home tests are “absolutely a step in the right direction,” but she wasn’t sure she would meet the demand. “This is something we can’t really project or predict right now,” Dawson said.

The president encouraged schools to stay open, guided by the latest “Test to Stay” policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He claims that students exposed to coronavirus can stay in class and avoid quarantine at home if they test negative for the virus.

“We can keep our K-12 schools open, that’s exactly what we should be doing,” Biden said. “Science is clear and overwhelming. We know how to protect our children.”

The White House said it has also prepositioned fans, masks, gowns and other medical equipment it keeps in the National Strategic Stock to reach hospitals as soon as possible.

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