Against Omicron, Biden relies on tests and vaccines, not restrictions

Washington | Tests, boosting vaccination capabilities and additional resources for hospitals, but no new restrictions before Christmas: The White House on Tuesday detailed Joe Biden’s strategy against the Omicron variant, which is sweeping the country.

At a press conference, a senior White House official, who was subject to the ban, mentioned the measures that the US President will announce at 7:30 pm GMT (2:30 pm local time), as the new variant of COVID-19 is now the majority of new infections in the United State.

The tone is as proactive as it is reassuring: “We have the tools to counter this wave,” this source said, adding that while Americans are vaccinated and following the precautions we know well, particularly wearing a mask when they travel, they can celebrate Christmas and end-of-year festivities in peace.”

“There is no need to limit our schools or our economy,” the senior official added.

The Biden administration follows three principles: more hospital resources, more testing, and more vaccines.

The federal government will mobilize a thousand doctors, nurses or medical workers from the military, who could, if necessary, be deployed across the country in January and February.

Washington is already sending additional emergency teams to six states (Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont), and is preparing emergency transportation as well as equipment (protective gear and respirators) for hospitals that need it.

“We are prepared for the increase we expect in unvaccinated hospital admissions in the coming months,” the source previously cited said.

The Biden administration will also work in an area that has come under widespread criticism, screening, by purchasing 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests, to be performed at home. It will be delivered free to Americans who order it via a dedicated website, starting in January.

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The federal government has also promised to open new vaccination centers.

“We have to take Omicron very seriously, we should be concerned but not panic,” the senior official said, echoing Joe Biden.

The US president, elected on a promise to end the pandemic, is playing a big role in an America fed up with COVID-19, worried about the arrival of the highly contagious variant Omicron and partly still resistant to vaccination.

So the Democrat, already struggling to impose a vaccination obligation in large companies, has not decided for the time being to tighten the screws further, for example by enforcing health measures for domestic flights.

Cancellations of shows and sporting events are increasing in the United States, some cities such as Boston are implementing enhanced health protocols and in some areas, schools have decided not to reopen immediately after the Christmas holidays.

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