WASHINGTON (NWN) – President Joe Biden is set to launch a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots on Thursday as he revealed his winter plans for tackling the coronavirus and its Omicron version With increased availability of shots and vaccines but without major new restrictions.
The plan includes requiring private insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests and tightening testing requirements for people entering the US regardless of their vaccination status. But as some other nations close or re-lock their borders, officials said Biden was not moving to impose additional restrictions beyond his recommendation that Americans wear masks indoors in public settings.
Biden said on Wednesday that the upcoming strategy, to be unveiled during a speech at the National Institutes of Health, would fight the virus “not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, tests, and more.”
The White House released details of Biden’s plan early Thursday ahead of the speech.
The Biden administration has come this winter to see the widespread adoption of booster shots as its most effective tool to combat COVID-19. Medical experts say the boosters offer advanced and more lasting protection against COVID-19, including newer forms.
A lot is unknown about the Omicron versionThis includes whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill and whether it can cause vaccines to fail.
About 100 million Americans are eligible for a booster under current US policy, and more are becoming eligible every day. Officials believe that convincing people who have already been vaccinated will be far easier than vaccinating the nearly 43 million adult Americans who haven’t received a shot. Despite widespread public pressure campaigns to roll up its sleeves.
And while Biden’s large employers require workers to be vaccinated-or-tested Battling legal challenges, the president will renew his call on Thursday for businesses to go ahead and impose his own mandate on workers so they can stay open without an outbreak.
In an effort to encourage more people to take booster doses, the Biden administration is expanding direct access to seniors – the most vulnerable populations. to virus. The White House said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will send notices to all 63 million Medicare beneficiaries and encourage them to receive booster doses. AARP will work with the administration on education campaigns for seniors.
So far, about 42 million Americans, about half of whom are senior citizens, have received a booster dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week broadened its booster dose recommendation to cover all Americans aged at least 18, six months after the second dose of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.
The White House said the CDC is developing new guidance for schools in an effort to reduce or eliminate existing quarantine requirements for people who are not fully vaccinated and exposed to the virus. The White House said new policies, which will be released in the coming weeks, could include so-called “test-to-stay” policies, in which those considered close contacts can continue to attend school but wear masks. Can wear and pass. Serial testing to minimize learning loss and disruption.
The administration’s upcoming rule requires private insurers to cover at-home testing, and several details are yet to be worked out, including under what criteria they will be reimbursable, officials said.
Those insured by Medicare and Medicaid would not be eligible, but the White House said 150 million people with private insurance would see easy and affordable access to at-home testing. The administration said it is making 50 million COVID-19 tests free for older people and other vulnerable groups for pickup at senior centers and community sites.
The White House said that starting next week, all passengers traveling to the US, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a day of boarding their flights. For those who have been vaccinated as an extra precaution against the Omicron variant, it is now less than three days. But the White House has touted tough choices, such as requiring testing after arrival or requiring quarantine upon arrival in the US
The White House said Biden is also expanding his directive requiring masks on airplanes and other public transit, which was set to expire in January, at least mid-March.
The administration is also notifying states that they have more than 60 teams available to help them or their municipalities address rising cases and public health shortages in the winter, half of which aims to boost hospital services and support 20 to 20 life-saving monoclonal antibodies. the treatment.