Biden announces 500 million more tests will be purchased for Americans

WASHINGTON — President Biden on Thursday stepped up his administration’s response to a wave of coronavirus caused by the Omicron variant...


WASHINGTON — President Biden on Thursday stepped up his administration’s response to a wave of coronavirus caused by the Omicron variant, sending what he said was urgent aid to overwhelmed hospitals and pledging to provide Americans with tests and supplies. free masks as the country enters the third year of the pandemic.

Mr Biden said he was directing his staff to buy 500 million more coronavirus tests to distribute to Americans, doubling the government’s previous purchase as his administration scrambles to respond to the highly contagious variant of Omicron .

In addition, the president said he was sending a total of 120 military medical personnel to six states where hospitals have been overrun with cases. And he has promised to reveal plans next week to help Americans by providing free, high-quality masks that better prevent infection with the virus.

The announcement of additional testing came as Mr Biden prepared to receive an update from the leaders of his Covid response team at the White House on Thursday morning.

“This will mean a billion tests in total to meet future demand,” Mr. Biden said. “And we will continue to work with retailers and online retailers to increase availability. “

But it’s unclear when the tests will be available. Mr Biden announced the first batch of 500 million tests just before Christmas, and the first batch of that announcement won’t start shipping until later this month, according to White House officials. Details on how Americans can request these tests, including a government-run testing website, are expected to be released on Friday.

The president did not specify when the new batch of 500 million tests will be manufactured and ready for distribution. But he said home testing – along with more than 20,000 testing sites across the country – will help meet growing demand as people try to continue to work, school and socialize despite the rapid spread of the virus.

“We’re on track to roll out a website next week where you can order a free test shipped to your home,” he said, adding that people with medical insurance may also soon be reimbursed for the purchase of up to eight tests per month.

Mr Biden did not provide any details of what he said was a plan to ensure Americans have access to high-quality masks. Experts said the KN95 and N95 masks protect against the Omicron variant better than the more common fabric or surgical masks that many people wear.

“As I have said for the past two years, please wear a mask. I think it’s part of your patriotic duty, “he said, acknowledging that” it’s not that comfortable, it’s a pain in the neck. “

The announcement of aid to hospitals marked the start of a deployment of 1,000 military personnel to help doctors and nurses cope with an increase in the number of Omicron cases, Biden said.

The President appeared alongside Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense, and Deanne Criswell, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at the White House to detail teams heading to hard-hit communities Across the country. Mr Biden said late last month he would call in the military to help hospitals in early January.

The new teams of doctors, nurses and other medical staff would start arriving at hospitals in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island, said the president, to help sort out patients arriving at hospitals, allowing short-staffed emergency departments to free up space.

The deployments are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to deal with the latest wave of cases caused by the highly contagious variant of Omicron. As it has increased, new cases have also increased, reaching over 780,000 per day Across the country. The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 has reached a record high of around 142,000.

For Mr Biden, the inability to control the pandemic has helped push his approval ratings down as he enters his second year in office. Its staff intend to publicly communicate their efforts to fight the virus.

Since Thanksgiving, when Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, the administration has sent more than 800 military and relief workers to 24 states, tribes and territories, officials said, not including personnel announced Thursday by Mr. Biden.

In addition, more than 14,000 members of the National Guard have been activated in 49 states to help hospitals with vaccinations, tests and other medical services, officials said. These deployments were funded by the American Rescue Plan, a law Mr. Biden defended early in his tenure.

“To the military medical teams on the ground, thank you for everything you do,” the president said.

Officials said there would likely be further deployments of military medical personnel in the coming days as the country continues to fight the pandemic.

Zacharie Montague contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden announces 500 million more tests will be purchased for Americans
Biden announces 500 million more tests will be purchased for Americans
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