President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday afternoon, announcing changes to his winter COVID-19 plan in light of the Omicron variant causing a rapid surge in positive cases across the country. Among the changes the President noted were providing an additional 500 million rapid coronavirus tests for use across the country. Biden also detailed other changes, including new testing sites, greater support for overloaded hospitals and more efforts for vaccination and booster doses.
Biden and his medical advisers have been monitoring the spread of the Omicron strain, which has quickly become the dominant variant nationwide. The mutation is responsible for almost 75% of all new cases across the United States. The President said: “I know you’re tired. I really mean this, and I know you’re frustrated. We all want this to be over. But we’re still in it. And this is a critical moment. We also have more tools than we have ever had before. We’re ready. We’ll get through this.”
A new website will make nearly 500 million COVID-19 rapid antigen tests available and delivered to homes free of charge for anyone who wants them. Biden also reinforced that his vaccine mandate has been reinstated by an appeals court. The rules require companies with more than 100 employees to require them to be vaccinated or conduct daily testing. “The rule is legal and effective, and it’s going to save thousands of American lives,” he said.
Biden said the the Defense Department is being directed to prepare an additional 1,000 military doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical personnel to be deployed to hospitals in January and February in an effort to prevent hospitals from becoming overfilled.
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