President Biden announced the administration’s efforts to respond to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic through additional testing, increased medical support and an increased supply of high-quality masks.
He did so while laying out a clear argument for getting the shot and boosting, telling those who haven’t to stop “standing in the way” as he renewed calls on media giants to fight back. the spread of disinformation.
Biden reiterated the importance of masking, announcing that new details on high quality free masks such as the KN95 and N95 will arrive next week.
“Next week, we’ll be announcing how we’re making high-quality face masks available to the American people free of charge. I know we all wish we could finally end the wearing of masks. I get it, but they’re a really important tool in stopping the spread, especially the highly transmissible Omicron variant, ”he told the White House ahead of a virtual briefing to military medical teams in the field.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Wednesday that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not changed their guidelines on the use of masks, but that the Biden administration is “strongly” considering making better quality masks, such as the N95 and KN95 masks, more accessible to Americans.
Biden on Thursday called wearing the mask a “patriotic duty,” noting a statistic that about a third of Americans do not wear a mask, making it clear that he understands it is “uncomfortable” and a “pain in the neck.” neck”.
The president also announced a new purchase of 500 million additional Covid-19 tests in addition to the previously announced 500 million free home rapid tests that will be deployed through a website, amid continued demand for testing and persistent shortages.
He added that the administration continues to add federally-run testing sites and has touted new measures to make testing reimbursable for insured people.
Biden also described the federal emergency response, including deployment of military personnel to six hard-hit states to help address hospital staff shortages.
“Today, I am announcing our upcoming deployment of six additional federal medical teams – a total of more than 120 military medics – to six hard-hit states: Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island,” did he declare. .
Since Thanksgiving, he noted, more than 800 military and other federal personnel have been deployed to 24 states, tribes and territories, including more than 350 military doctors, nurses and nurses. More than 14,000 members of the National Guard are also activated in 49 states. All of these deployments, he noted, are fully paid for by the Covid relief program adopted by Congress early last year.
He said he also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make sure there were enough hospital beds in every state.
Biden has stressed the importance of getting the vaccine to fight Covid-19, as his critics cite the increase in cases among those fully vaccinated.
“I know we are all frustrated as we move into this New Year. The Omicron variant is responsible for millions of cases and record hospitalizations. I said as long as we stay in this pandemic it is an unvaccinated pandemic. And by that I mean now both vaccinated [and] unvaccinated people test positive, but what happens after that couldn’t be more different, ”he said.
He continued, “If people who are vaccinated are positive, the vast majority either have no symptoms or have mild symptoms. And if you are not vaccinated, if it is positive, you are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized, “adding that deaths are” considerably “down from the same time last year.
He then made a more forceful and targeted appeal to the millions of Americans who are yet to be vaccinated, warning them that they are not just on the sidelines, but on the way.
He appealed to social media companies and the media amid the continued spread of lies about the vaccine and the virus in general.
“Please face the misinformation and misinformation that is in your shows. It has to stop, “he said.