(Trends Wide) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday the administration’s efforts to respond to the growing COVID-19 pandemic through additional testing, increased medical support and increased supply of high-quality masks.
He did so while making a clear case for getting vaccinated and beefing up, calling on those who haven’t to stop “getting in the way,” while renewing calls for media giants to combat the spread of misinformation. .
Biden reiterated the importance of masks by announcing that new details on free high-quality masks, such as KN95 and N95, will be released next week.
“Next week we’re announcing how we’re going to make high-quality masks available to the American people for free. I know we all want to get rid of masks once and for all. I get it, but they’re a really important tool in stopping the spread.” , especially the highly transmissible omicron variant,” he said at the White House ahead of a virtual briefing by military medical teams on the ground.
This Wednesday, the coordinator of the White House response to covid-19, Jeff Zients, told reporters that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) changed their guidance on the use of masks, but that the Biden administration is “strongly considering” making higher quality masks, such as N95 and KN95, available to Americans.
This Thursday, Biden called the use of masks a “patriotic duty”, pointing to a statistic that indicates that approximately one-third of Americans do not wear a mask, making it clear that he understands that “it is not comfortable” and it is a “headache” .
The President also announced a new purchase of 500 million additional covid-19 tests in addition to the 500 million free rapid tests that will be done at home through a website, amid continued demand for tests and the continuing shortage.
“Next week we will launch a website where you can request free tests to be sent to your home. And in addition to the 500 million tests that are in the process of being acquired to be sent to your home for free, today I’m instructing my team to purchase an additional 500 million tests to distribute for free. I mean 1 billion total tests to meet future demand. And we’ll continue to work with retailers and online sellers to increase availability “, He said.
He added that the administration is continuing to add federally run testing centers and highlighted new measures to make testing reimbursable to those with insurance.
Biden also outlined the federal response, which includes deploying military personnel to six hard-hit states to help resolve hospital staffing shortages.
“Today I am announcing our upcoming deployment of six additional federal medical teams — a total of more than 120 military medical personnel — to six hard-hit states: Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island,” he said.
Since Thanksgiving, he noted, more than 800 military and other federal personnel have been deployed to 24 states, tribes and territories, including more than 350 military doctors, nurses and medical personnel. More than 14,000 National Guard members in 49 states are also activated. All of these deployments, he noted, are fully paid for by the Covid relief package passed by Congress early last year.
He said he also directed FEMA to make sure there is enough hospital bed capacity in every state.
Biden also offered a stark warning of the importance of getting vaccinated to fight back as his critics cite the rise in cases among people who are fully vaccinated.
“I know we are all frustrated going into this new year. The omicron variant is causing record millions of cases and hospitalizations. I have been saying that as long as we remain in this pandemic, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And I mean by this that Right now, both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are testing positive, but what happens next couldn’t be more different,” he said.
He continued: “If vaccinated people test positive, the vast majority have no symptoms, or mild symptoms. And if they are not vaccinated, if they test positive, they are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized,” adding that deaths are down “dramatically” compared to this time last year.
Later, he made a more forceful and directed appeal to the millions of Americans who have not yet been vaccinated, warning that they are not only on the sidelines, but they are on the way.
“It’s been a long road. But what is clear is that we will get ahead when everyone does their part, no matter where you live, no matter your political party, we have to fight this together. Unfortunately, while our military is giving step forward, as they always do, there are others who stay on the sidelines and, worse, stand in the way. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do so. Personal choice affects us all: our hospitals, our our country,” he said.
Federal doctors are “part of the first series of deployments” to help in the current wave of covid-19
The wave of covid has put hospitals across the country under considerable strain. And, to combat the enormous pressure on health services that comes as more staff declare themselves sick from the virus, state leaders enacted emergency procedures to help hospitals cope.
“The sudden and sharp increase in cases due to omicron is leading to an unprecedented daily count of cases, illnesses, absenteeism and strains on our health care system,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Biden last month announced plans to mobilize 1,000 military medics to help overwhelmed hospitals amid the omicron wave. “These are just part of the first series of deployments,” the White House official said of the latest deployments. “Teams will continue to be mobilized and deployed where they are needed in the coming weeks to deal with omicron.”