Biden launches winter COVID booster, test campaign
President Joe Biden will launch a more urgent campaign to give Americans access to Coronavirus disease On Thursday, he announced his plan to combat the coronavirus and its omicron variants in the winter, increasing the availability of injections and vaccines, but without major new restrictions.
The plan includes requiring private insurance companies to pay for COVID-19 testing at home and tightening testing requirements for people entering the United States, regardless of their vaccination status. But as some other countries close their borders or re-implement blockades, officials said that Biden will not take other measures other than recommending that Americans wear masks in indoor public places.
Biden said on Wednesday that the forthcoming strategy to be announced in a speech at the National Institutes of Health will “not be through a shutdown or lockdown, but through a wider range of vaccinations, boosters, testing, etc.” to combat the virus. .
Earlier on Thursday, the White House announced the details of Biden’s plan before speaking.
The Biden administration has begun to regard the widespread adoption of enhanced injections as the most effective tool to combat COVID-19 this winter. Medical experts say that boosters can provide enhanced and longer-lasting protection against COVID-19, including new variants.
The White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said on CBS on Thursday: “A national campaign is underway to allow 100 million eligible individuals who have not yet received boosters. Americans get boosters.”
There are many unknowns about the omicron variant, including whether it is more contagious, whether it will make people sicker, and whether it will hinder vaccination.
According to current US policy, approximately 100 million Americans are eligible for boosters, and more people are eligible for subsidies every day. Officials believe that it is much easier to persuade those who have already been vaccinated to get another dose than to vaccinate the approximately 43 million unvaccinated adult Americans, despite widespread public pressure to roll up their sleeves.
Although Biden’s requirements for vaccinations or testing for workers of large employers have been blocked due to legal challenges, the President will again call on companies to move forward on Thursday and impose their own authorization on workers so that they can avoid an outbreak. Keep it open.
In order to encourage more people to take the booster, the Biden administration is stepping up direct contact with the elderly-the elderly are the people most vulnerable to the virus. The White House stated that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will issue notices to all 63 million Medicare beneficiaries to encourage them to receive booster doses. AARP will cooperate with the government to carry out education activities for the elderly.
So far, approximately 42 million Americans (about half of whom are elderly) have received booster doses. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its booster dosage recommendations to cover all Americans over 18 years old, starting six months after they received a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s mRNA vaccine.
The White House said that the CDC is still developing new guidelines for schools to reduce or eliminate current isolation requirements for those who have not been fully vaccinated and exposed to the virus. The White House stated that the new policies that will be released in the coming weeks may include the so-called “test stay in school” policy, that is, those who are considered to be close contacts can continue to go to school, but must wear masks and undergo inspections. Continuous testing to minimize learning losses and interruptions.
Officials said that the government’s upcoming regulations requiring private insurance companies to cover the cost of home testing are still being drafted, and many details are still to be finalized, including the standards under which reimbursement can be made.
Those who are insured by Medicare and Medicaid will not be eligible, but the White House said that as many as 150 million people with private insurance will make home testing easier and cheaper. The government stated that it is providing 50 million free COVID-19 tests for seniors and other vulnerable groups for testing at senior centers and community sites.
The White House stated that starting next week, all travelers to the United States, regardless of their nationality or vaccination status, will need to provide proof of negative COVID-19 testing within one day after boarding. For vaccinated people, this is less than the current three days, which is an additional preventive measure for omicron variants.But the White House shelved more difficult options, such as requiring testing upon arrival or quarantine upon arrival in the United States
The White House said that Biden will also extend the order to wear masks on airplanes and other public transportation until at least mid-March. The order was originally scheduled to expire in January.
The government also notified the states that it has more than 60 teams that can help them or their municipalities cope with the surge in cases entering the winter and public health shortages. Half of them are aimed at strengthening hospital services and 20 are aimed at supporting life-saving monoclonal antibodies. treatment.