President Joe Biden announced Thursday new actions to combat COVID-19 as winter approaches and amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.
“The United States has come far in its fight against the virus and is more prepared than ever to deal with the challenges of COVID-19,” the president said in a statement. “We have the public health tools we need to continue to fight this virus without shutting down our schools and businesses. As we head into winter, today, the President will announce actions to provide additional protection to Americans and fight the omicron and delta variants, while keeping our economy growing.”
According to a document posted to the White House’s website, the plan includes:
• Boosters for all adults.
• Vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open.
• Expanding free at-home testing for Americans.
• Stronger public health protocols for safe international travel.
• Protections in workplaces to keep the economy open.
• Rapid response teams to help battle rising cases.
• Supplying treatment pills to help prevent hospitalizations and death.
• Continued commitment to global vaccination efforts.
• Steps to ensure preparation for all scenarios.
After the World Health Organization (WHO) named omicron as a “variant of concern” last week, the White House said the president took immediate steps to restrict travel from the most affected countries in order to give the U.S. time to learn more about the variant and prepare.
“We have more tools today to fight the omicron variant than we have had to fight previous variants, including delta,” Biden said.
Nearly 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated, booster shots are authorized for all adults, and a vaccine is authorized for children 5 and older.
“The U.S. is leading the world in vaccinating children, and millions of Americans have already gotten their boosters. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing additional antiviral treatments for when people do get sick,” the White House noted in a fact sheet.
“Today’s actions will ensure we are using these tools as effectively as possible to protect the American people against this variant and to continue to battle the delta variant during the winter months when viruses tend to thrive. These actions will help keep our economy growing and keep Americans safe from severe COVID-19,” the White House said.