(Washington DC) – President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the government will double to 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests for free distribution to Americans, along with face masks. N95 masks offer the best protection, as he stressed his efforts to “increase” resources to help the country fight a spike in coronavirus cases.
Biden also announced that starting next week, 1,000 military medical personnel will begin deploying across the country to help ease overwhelmed medical facilities. lack of staff because of omicron variant is highly infectious.
Many facilities are struggling as their workers are quarantined at home due to the virus at the same time as the sudden nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases. The new rollout will be based on other federal health workers who have been sent to states to help with severe shortages.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Biden acknowledged that, “I know we’re all disappointed as we head into this new year” as virus infections reach new heights. But he stressed that it remains “an epidemic of the unvaccinated.”
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people have tested positive for the virus, but Biden noted health figures show that people are less likely to get serious illness and die if they’ve been vaccinated. Vaccines: “What happened after that couldn’t have been more different.”
Biden’s comments come as his administration’s focus is shifting to easing disruptions caused by a spike in cases that also contributed to lack of groceries and cancel the flight, rather than stopping the transmission of the virus.
On Tuesday, Janet Woodcock, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, told Congress that the highly transmissible strain would infect “most people” and the focus should shift to ensure that critical services can continue uninterrupted.
“I think it’s hard to process what’s really happening right now, which is: Most people will get COVID, okay?” she speaks. “What we need to do is make sure hospitals can still function – transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens.”
Biden says he is directing his team to double its procurement of COVID-19 rapid tests to be delivered to Americans for free through an upcoming federal website, as he seeks to respond to criticism about short and verbose for tests. The initial order was for 500 million tests, and now the federal government will buy 1 billion home test kits. Biden said the site will launch next week.
Biden also announced that for the first time his administration plans to make high-quality N95 masks, most effective at preventing transmission of the virus, available for free for the first time. He said his administration would announce details next week.
The federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, the White House said this week. And while research has shown these masks offer better protection, they’re often more uncomfortable, and health officials haven’t changed their guidelines to recommend against wearing them. with less protective fabric.
“The best mask is the one you’ll wear and can wear throughout the day,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden encouraged Americans to wear masks while indoors to slow the spread of viruses, even as he acknowledged they were a “pain in the neck.”
In his speech on Thursday, Biden was joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who recently recovered from his own case of COVID-19, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. They heard about the work of more than 800 military personnel who have helped civilian hospitals since Thanksgiving and more than 14,000 National Guard member Jobs that support vaccinations, testing, and patient care are being paid for by the federal government.
The White House said it spoke to federal employees already in Arizona, Michigan and New York to hear about their experiences.
Biden also announced that six additional medics would be deployed to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.
The White House said teams will support Henry Ford Hospital just outside Detroit, University Hospital in Newark, University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Cleveland Clinic and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.