President Joe Biden has pledged to distribute hundreds of millions of free COVID-19 tests and open more testing sites, but efforts will not be renewed by the holidays.
See the player briefing above.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday that his administration has done enough to ensure that Americans who have gathered with family members this season can do so safely.
“We tried to take additional quick steps and be as bold and ambitious as possible with the affordable offering that is on the market. As for what steps were taken when Omicron was opened, that is, just on Thanksgiving, right? During the trip, we took urgent measures, advised the Americans to get a revaccination or a vaccine; On that Monday, the President addressed the country where we were with the virus. That Thursday he published the plan for the winter, ”said Psaki.
In the United States, infections averaged about 149,000 per day, up from 75,000 per day in early November.
Americans searched pharmacies for meager home tests or waiting hours at testing centers across the country. The growing demand for tests is fueled by a number of factors, including families looking to keep holiday gatherings safe and people who need to prove they are free of viruses for travel, work or school.
READ MORE: Less than a month after its discovery, Omicron now accounts for 73 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
A particularly contagious variant of the omicron is added to the pressure. This multiplies the number of people seeking tests after contact with an infected person.
Biden announced on Tuesday that the federal government will begin sending 500 million free rapid tests directly to Americans for the first time in January. Details have yet to be released, but officials say people will be able to use the new website to order tests that will be mailed to them for free.
The government will use the Defense Manufacturing Act to produce more tests. And new federal testing centers will also be set up starting this week in New York.
“We have opened 20,000 test sites. We’ve worked with FEMA to open more testing centers across the country so people can get together with their families. Have we survived the pandemic? No, we do not. But we are in a completely different place than a year ago, ”she said.
In addition, Psaki also responded to comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin is calling on the West to “immediately” satisfy Russia’s demand for security guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion into Ukraine and the deployment of military alliance weapons there. He accused the West, during a marathon press conference on Thursday, of trying to make Ukraine “anti-Russian, constantly reinforced with modern weapons and brainwashing of the population.”
The Russian leader welcomed talks with the United States, due to begin in Geneva next month, but warned that discussions centered on Moscow’s demands should yield quick results.
In response, Psaki said: “The only aggression on the border between Russia and Ukraine is the buildup of military forces by the Russians and the belligerent rhetoric on the part of the leader of Russia.”
“I just want to point out that NATO is a defensive alliance,” she said, adding that diplomacy is the best way, while noting that “there was no final agreement on the place or time” of the security negotiations.