Biden urges taking coronavirus booster shots, testing them at home to fight omicron variant

President Joe Biden is set to launch a more urgent campaign for Americans COVID-19 Booster Shots Thursday, as he reveals his winter plans for combat Corona virus and his omicron variable With increasing availability of injections and vaccines but without major new restrictions.

The plan includes a requirement for private insurers to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests at home and tighter testing requirements for people entering the United States regardless of their vaccination status. But like some other countries Close their borders or re-enforce lockdowns, officials said Biden did not move to impose additional restrictions beyond his recommendation to Americans Wearing masks indoors in public places.

Biden said Wednesday that the next strategy, which will be revealed during a speech at the National Institutes of Health, will fight the virus “not through shutdown or shutdown but with more vaccines, boosters, widespread testing, and more.”

The White House released details of Biden’s plan early Thursday, ahead of the speech.

The Biden administration has come to view the widespread adoption of the booster shot as an effective tool to combat COVID-19 this winter. Medical experts say boosters provide enhanced and more permanent protection against COVID-19, including new variants.

Much is still unknown about him variable omicron, including whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more dangerous and whether it can thwart vaccines.

About 100 million Americans are eligible for boosters under current US policy, with more eligible each day. Officials believe that convincing those who have already been vaccinated to get another dose would be much easier than vaccinating the nearly 43 million American adults. Didn’t get a chance Despite massive public pressure campaigns to roll up their sleeves.

While Biden was Vaccination or testing requirement for workers at larger employers Because of legal challenges, the president will on Thursday renew his call for companies to go ahead and impose their own mandates on workers so they can stay open without an outbreak.

In an effort to encourage more people to take stimulant doses, the Biden administration is ramping up direct contact with seniors — The most vulnerable population for the virus. The White House said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will send a notice to all 63 million Medicare beneficiaries to encourage them to get the booster doses. AARP will work with the administration on education campaigns for seniors.

To date, about 42 million Americans, half of whom are elderly, have received a booster dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week expanded its booster-dose recommendations to include all Americans under 18 six months after their second dose of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.

The White House said the CDC is also developing new guidelines for schools in an effort to reduce or eliminate existing quarantine requirements for those who are not fully vaccinated and who are exposed to the virus. The new policies, which the White House said will come out in the coming weeks, could include so-called “survival testing” policies, under which those considered in close contact can continue to attend school but wear masks and undergo sequential testing, in an effort to reduce learning loss and disruption. .

Officials said the administration’s next rule requiring private insurers to cover in-home tests is still being drafted, and many details remain to be worked out, including what standards will be reimbursed.

Those insured by Medicare and Medicaid will not qualify, but the White House said up to 150 million people with private insurance will see easier and less expensive access to at-home tests. The department said it is conducting 50 million free COVID-19 tests for seniors and other vulnerable groups to pick them up at senior centers and community sites.

The White House said that starting next week, all travelers to the United States, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of boarding their flights. That’s less than three days now for those vaccinated, in an extra precaution against the omicron variant. But the White House has halted stricter options, such as ordering post-arrival testing or ordering quarantine upon arrival in the United States.

The White House said Biden is also expanding its guidance requiring masks on planes and other public transportation, which was due to expire in January, until at least mid-March.

The administration also told states that it has more than 60 teams available to help them or their municipalities address sudden increases in cases and public health shortages as winter approaches, with half aiming to boost hospital services and 20 teams targeting support for life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments.

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