President Biden is set to address the nation Tuesday afternoon to lay out his renewed plan to fight COVID-19 as the media continues to sensationalize the new Omicron variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that omicron variant is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States, making up 73.2% of new infections in the week that ended Dec.18—up from just 12.6% the prior week.
Thanks to the media pushing fear around the variant – which doctors have already discovered is an even more mild version of the virus – Americans across the country have already begun taking action.
Schools are beginning to shift to remote learning, restaurants are closing their doors to the public, and events are once again being canceled. Broadway shows in New York City have been canceled, along with the Rockettes’ “Christmas Spectacular” shows. The National Hockey League also announced a pause to its season.
Biden is expected to announce three steps to build on his previously announced winter plan—including increased support for hospitals, access to free tests and surprise, surprise – pushing more vaccinations.
As for increased support for hospitals, officials said the administration will ensure that states and hospitals across the country have the personnel, the beds, and the supplies they need despite the almost non-existent percentage of people who face hospitalization from the Omicron variant.
As part of this effort, the president is set to direct Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to mobilize 1,000 members of the military to deploy to overburdened hospitals in January and February in an effort to increase hospital capacity, and to provide critical supplies and materials needed to get more hospital beds online.
This comes of course after thousands of healthcare workers were forced to leave their jobs over a refusal to comply with vaccine mandates – and many feared this would create staffing shortages.
The president is also expected to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to activate the National Response Coordination Center and to deploy FEMA planners to assess hospital needs.
Officials touted the “hundreds of millions of high-quality masks, billions of gloves, and thousands of ventilators” available across the United States, noting that if one hospital “runs out,” officials “can get those supplies to spaces that need them immediately.”
The president is also set to announce expanded access to testing, with the administration setting up new federal testing sites across the nation.
Officials said the Biden administration will purchase half a billion rapid tests to be distributed to Americans and will set up a website where Americans can get an at-home COVID-19 test delivered for free. Officials said that system will be set up in January.
The president is also expected to announce expanded efforts to get Americans vaccinated—citing COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses as a critical tool to protect against severe illness.
Officials said FEMA is set to create pop-up vaccination clinics, and deploy hundreds of additional federal vaccinators who will help add thousands of appointments for vaccines each week. Officials said pharmacies nationwide are also adding appointments and capacity across their networks.
President Biden previewed his remarks Monday night, sharing with the public “a sense of where we are and what we know” on the omicron variant.
“We know that vaccines are working. If you are boosted with Pfizer or Moderna, you have a high degree of protection against severe illness with omicron,” Biden tweeted. “If you’re an adult choosing to be unvaccinated, you will face an extremely difficult winter for your family and community.”
The president also warned that “omicron cases will increase in the coming days—even among fully vaccinated individuals.”
“If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you may still get a breakthrough case but doctors say you will likely have no symptoms or mild ones,” Biden tweeted, adding that the public needs to “take precautions and remain vigilant.”
The president’s preview of his Tuesday remark put an emphasis on familiar messaging coming out of the White House as of late as they continue to try and force the needle into the arms of as many Americans as possible.
Author: Nick Howes
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