Biden’s plan for fighting omicron to include free at-home COVID-19 tests, support for hospitals

There was a long line at a COVID-19 testing site in New York City on Dec. 20.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

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President Joe Biden on Tuesday will announce new measures aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as the US faces rising cases propelled by the omicron variant. Among the new actions, Biden will announce increased support for hospitals, more pop-up vaccination sites in areas of high demand and a plan to distribute free, at-home rapid tests to Americans, according to the White House

The omicron variant is now the dominant coronavirus variant in the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While available research suggests omicron isn’t causing more severe illness than the delta variant, health officials say it could make a large number of people sick at once, which would overwhelm health care systems. 

The White House said more than 73% of adults in the US are now fully vaccinated and more than 1 million booster doses are being administered each day, but also stressed that “unvaccinated individuals are at high risk of getting COVID-19, getting severely ill, and even dying.”

On Tuesday, the president will unveil plans to provide increased support to hospitals and health care systems, including deploying 1,000 service member, such as military doctors and nurses, to hospitals during January and February. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also be directed to work with states to expand hospital capacity and to deploy ambulances and emergency medial teams, according to the White House. 

Biden will also detail the administration’s plan to purchase 500 million at-home, rapid tests that can be distributed to Americans starting in January. The government plans to launch a website through which people can request these tests be delivered to their home for free, according to the White House. Beyond that, Biden will announce plans to set up additional COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the US. 

The president is scheduled to deliver remarks on the country’s efforts to fight COVID-19 from the White House on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

See also: The best home COVID-19 tests

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