The initiatives come as Omicron blankets the U.S. and quantity to a redeployment of emergency defenses seen final yr within the hope of containing the virus’ unfold with out resorting to college closures and financial lockdowns.
“We all know we’ve got the instruments to get by this wave,” the senior administration official mentioned.
Biden will formally announce the brand new efforts in speech this afternoon, the place he’s additionally anticipated to ship a stark message: In the event you’re vaccinated, life can proceed as regular. However those that aren’t are placing themselves and the well being system at grave threat.
The tone marks a shift from earlier this month, when Biden sought to unify the nation behind a broader winter Covid-19 plan that he hailed as a chance to “put the divisiveness behind us.”
But within the intervening weeks, Omicron tore throughout the nation, driving up circumstances and hospitalizations and fueling testing shortages and fears of swamped hospitals.
The variant is now dominant inside the U.S., the CDC confirmed earlier this week. Whereas obtainable Covid vaccines nonetheless present vital safety, officers have warned that breakthrough infections are actually more likely amongst those that have but to get their booster pictures.
The surge means Biden — who’s already grappling with falling approval scores and the general public’s pandemic fatigue — is probably going to start his second yr in workplace the best way he started his first: Making an attempt to fend off a fierce resurgence of Covid-19 with no clear finish to the general public well being disaster.
These considerations are driving the deliberate build-out of testing and hospital capability, whilst Biden and high well being officers downplay the menace to nearly all of Individuals who’re absolutely vaccinated.
The administration is organising federal testing websites once more, with the primary due to open in New York Metropolis this week. And after weeks of criticism over its reluctance to ship out free at-home checks, the federal government will purchase 500 million checks that it plans to mail out on request.
These free checks won’t be obtainable till January, and the administration continues to be organising the web site the place individuals can request them. Officers have additionally but to settle such questions as what number of checks may be ordered directly.
However the buy comes as well as to the 50 million at-home checks that the administration earlier dedicated to distributing to group well being facilities, in addition to a separate initiative requiring non-public insurers to reimburse the price of at-home checks that’s due to take impact in mid-January.
As well as to increasing testing availability and getting ready reinforcements for hospitals, Biden may even announce plans to ramp up vaccination efforts by opening up new vaccination clinics and working with pharmacies to add extra appointment occasions and capability.