WASHINGTON — President Biden on Thursday stepped up his administration’s response to a coronavirus surge pushed by the Omicron variant, sending what he mentioned is urgently wanted assist to overwhelmed hospitals and pledging to supply Americans with free exams and masks because the nation enters the pandemic’s third yr.
Mr. Biden mentioned he was directing his workers to buy an extra 500 million exams for distribution to Americans, doubling the federal government’s earlier buy as his administration scrambles to reply to the extremely contagious Omicron.
In addition, the president mentioned he’s sending a complete of 120 army medical personnel to 6 states the place hospitals have been overrun by instances. And he promised to disclose subsequent week plans to assist Americans by offering free, high-quality masks which might be higher at prevention an infection from the virus.
It is unclear when the extra exams will change into accessible. Mr. Biden introduced the primary batch of 500 million exams simply earlier than Christmas, and people won’t begin being delivered till later this month, based on White House officers.
The president didn’t say when the brand new batch of 500 million exams can be manufactured and prepared for distribution. But he mentioned the at-home exams — together with greater than 20,000 testing websites across the nation — will assist to fulfill the surging demand as individuals attempt to proceed work, faculty and social life regardless of the fast unfold of the virus.
“We’re on track to roll out a website next week where you can order free test shipped to your home,” he mentioned, including that individuals with medical insurance coverage also can quickly get reimbursed for the acquisition of as much as eight exams a month.
Mr. Biden additionally didn’t present any particulars about what he mentioned can be a plan to make sure that Americans have entry to high-quality masks, such because the KN95 and N95 face coverings.
The announcement about assist for hospitals was the start of a deployment of 1,000 service members to assist docs and nurses cope with a surge in Omicron instances, Mr. Biden mentioned.
The new groups of docs, nurses and different medical personnel would start arriving at hospitals in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island, the president mentioned. They will assist triage sufferers arriving at hospitals, permitting short-staffed emergency departments to liberate house.