Biden to announce Omicron battle plan: 500m home tests, deploy 1,000 military personnel to hospitals

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President Biden is set to address the nation Tuesday amid a growing sense of panic over the Omicron variant — which appears to produce mild symptoms according to early results — to announce new steps his administration is taking in response to a surge in coronavirus cases.

With Christmas just days away, Biden is sticking with the winter of death theme for the unvaccinated introduced last week by White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients, which has drawn plenty of criticism. He is also expected to acknowledge that breakthrough Omicron infections are common, stating that the “shape of the pandemic is shifting,” according to the New York Times.

Amid a historic low approval rating, according to a new poll, the president will announce that the federal government will distribute 500 million free at-home rapid tests, set up new federal testing sites, deploy hundreds of federal vaccinators, and he will reportedly direct Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to mobilize an additional 1,000 troops to hospitals overburdened by the virus during January and February.

While campaigning for office, Biden vowed to “shut down” the virus if elected, but the impact of COVID-19 has only gotten worse under his direction. There have been more deaths from the virus on his watch than the nation saw under former President Donald Trump, despite Biden’s heavy-handed push to force Americans to get vaccinated. With more than 400,000 deaths during his brief tenure, Biden’s remarks when the death toll hit 220,000 under Trump come to mind: “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.”

A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity told reporters “we know we have the tools to get through this wave,” according to the Daily Mail.

The official added, “The President will tell the American people that if they are vaccinated and follow the process that we all know well, especially masking while traveling, they should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays.”

As for the unvaccinated — there are an estimated 40 million Americans still unvaccinated — the arm twisting seen from the White House will continue.

“We will also note that if you are unvaccinated you are at high risk of getting this variant. This variant is highly transmissible and the unvaccinated are eight times more likely to be hospitalized and 14 times more likely to die from Covid,” the official said of the president’s speech.

Biden releases a lengthy statement on Twitter Monday night warning that “Omicron cases are on the rise in the United States,” repeating the ominous winter of death warning while saying he wanted to give the nation “a sense of where we are and what we know.

“We know that vaccines are working. If you are boosted with Pfizer or Moderna, you have a high degree of protection against severe illness with Omicron,” the statement began. “If you’re an adult choosing to be unvaccinated, you will face an extremely difficult winter for your family and community.”

“Omicron cases will increase in the coming days — even among fully vaccinated individuals. If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you may still get a breakthrough case but doctors say you will likely have no symptoms or mild ones,” Biden continued. “We still need to take precautions and remain vigilant. Listen to the advice from doctors: even if you’re fully vaccinated, you should wear a mask when indoors in a public setting. It will help protect you and others—especially kids under 5 who can’t get vaccinated yet.”

He then directed his remarks to frontline workers, complimenting them for their sacrifices, which is somewhat ironic given that thousands of frontline workers have lost their jobs due to Biden’s vaccine mandate.

“To our frontline workers, I am in awe of your sacrifices. Thank you for the work you are putting in on this wave after a painful and difficult two years. We owe you a tremendous debt. I am once again asking for your strength, and I’ll never forget it,” the president said. “We are working around the clock to increase testing capacity, vaccine availability, and support for our hospitals. I’ll have more to say on this tomorrow. In the meantime: Get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask. And keep the faith. We’ll get through this together.”

The free at-home rapid tests will be offered through a website, which isn’t up yet, according to the Daily Mail. With pharmacies selling out of the tests, the article said the “initial delivery” is set for sometime in January — the White House official said the tests would be available “this winter.”

The Daily Mail reported on other measures Biden is expected to announce:

– A new federally-run testing facility in New York City before the holidays, with more to come;

– FEMA is pre-deploying hospital equipment to anticipated an expected surge, with ‘hundreds of millions of high-quality masks’ and other equipment;

– More medical surge facilities like two new ones in Louisiana;

– The government is deploying hundreds of ambulance and EMS crews to transport people out of overwhelmed hospitals.

 

Meanwhile, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that Biden’s approval rating has sunk to 41 percent, which represents a historic low for the president in polls conducted by the pollsters, according to The Hill. With yet another COVID-19 surge, rising consumer prices and his legislative agenda stalled in Washington, 55 percent of adults in the U.S. disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president.

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