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 People with free assessments and masks because the nation enters the pandemic’s third yr.
Mr. Biden mentioned he was directing his employees to buy an extra 500 million assessments for distribution to People, doubling the federal government’s earlier buy as his administration scrambles to reply to the extremely contagious Omicron.
As well as, 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 People by offering free, high-quality masks which are higher at prevention an infection from the virus.
It’s unclear when the extra assessments will develop into obtainable. Mr. Biden introduced the primary batch of 500 million assessments simply earlier than Christmas, and people is not going to begin being delivered till later this month, in keeping with White Home officers.
The president didn’t say when the brand new batch of 500 million assessments will probably be manufactured and prepared for distribution. However he mentioned the at-home assessments — 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 observe to roll out a web site subsequent week the place you possibly can order free take a look at shipped to your house,” he mentioned, including that folks with medical insurance coverage may quickly get reimbursed for the acquisition of as much as eight assessments a month.
Mr. Biden additionally didn’t present any particulars about what he mentioned could be a plan to make sure that People 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 medical doctors and nurses cope with a surge in Omicron instances, Mr. Biden mentioned.
The brand new groups of medical doctors, 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 may assist triage sufferers arriving at hospitals, permitting short-staffed emergency departments to unencumber house.