More masks, COVID tests and troops to fight Omicron


January 13, 2022 – President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. government will be free, upgraded face masks available for online ordering from next week.

In addition, it is ordering 500 million rapid tests on COVID-19 to meet future demand and deploys more military teams to help flooded hospitals in the worst-hit countries.

These actions are part of a “government-wide” response to the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations associated with the Omicron variant.

Upgraded masks

Biden’s plan aims to make it easier for Americans to get upgraded masks.

“I did everything I could as president to require people to wear masks in federal buildings and on planes and trains,” the president said. However, “I know that for some Americans, the mask is not always affordable or convenient to purchase.”

With that in mind, next week the White House will announce how people can order high-quality masks, including the N95, online, for free, on a new website.

Biden estimated that about one-third of Americans say they never wear a mask, a statistic he hopes will change.

The president also admitted pandemic fatigue in many people.

“We all want to finally be able to end up wearing masks, I understand,” he said. “But they are a really important tool to stop the spread, especially [of] highly portable Omicron variant. “

One billion tests

In a 10-minute address, Biden also announced plans to order another 500 million rapid tests on COVID-19 at home to meet demand. The order comes with 500 million tests already ordered by the government.

Counting, the president noted that the current and future offer means that “a billion tests will be obtained for free sending to your homes.”

Biden also noted that rapid tests at home were not available when he took office. In contrast, “in January alone, we will have over 375 million rapid tests at home. It’s a huge leap,” he said.

Meanwhile, his administration will work with online retailers to enable more tests. Also, for every American who wants testing right away, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is adding more free personal testing sites nationwide.

More military support

“I am announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams,” Biden said. These reinforcements include more than 120 military medical personnel sent to hard-hit states, including Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island.

These military personnel will join other teams already in action.

Since Thanksgiving, over 800 military and other federal emergency personnel have been deployed to 24 states, tribes and territories, Biden said. The figures included more than 350 military doctors, nurses and medics who helped overcrowded hospital staff. In addition, more than 14,000 members of the National Guard have already been deployed to help health care workers are in 49 states.

Vaccination remains a top priority

Getting more Americans vaccinated and boosted remains a priority, especially during the rise of Omicron.

“Currently, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are positive. But what happens after that can’t be any different,” Biden said. “If vaccinated people are positive, they usually have no symptoms or have mild symptoms.”

In contrast, when an unvaccinated person is positive, they are more than 17 times more likely to be hospitalized, he said.

“As long as we have tens of millions of people who will not be vaccinated, we will have full hospitals and unnecessary deaths. They are full of hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who could have heart attack, a car accident or any kind of injury, ”Biden said.

One bright spot so far with the rise of Omicron is, despite the jump in cases and the number of hospitalizations, he said, “mortality has been dramatically reduced compared to last winter”.

Uniting against a common enemy

Biden said America will “go through this when everyone does their part of the job, no matter where you live, no matter your political party.”

Furthermore, acknowledging the political division that affects the response to COVID-19 and the numbers, he said: “Together we have a fight. We have to work together. Not against each other.”


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