President Biden announced that his administration will order 500 million more at-home quick Covid-19 testing to fulfill demand across the country, more than tripling the number of tests the US plans to deliver to the public for free.
Mr. Biden said at the White House on Thursday, “That means a billion tests in all to accommodate future demand.”
He also stated that he intends to discuss a plan to offer free masks to Americans next week.
Last month, the president said that the US would acquire the first batch of 500 million tests to distribute for free.
He’s doubling that number in response to a growing need for more accessible testing as a result of the Omicron variant, according to public health officials.
The Biden administration has started finalizing contracts for the first wave of 500 million quick tests, which will be distributed to those who request them via a website and a phone hotline in the coming weeks.
Mr. Biden stated that the website would be launched next week, but he did not specify when the public would be able to take the examinations.
Officials from the White House have stated that they plan to begin distributing tests this month, but they have not provided a clear timeframe or stated how many tests can be requested.
In the wake of a record number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, Biden has been chastised by public health authorities, Republicans, and some members of his party for not doing more to provide testing to the public.
Free testing lineups have stretched for several city blocks in some locations, and pharmacies have battled to keep fast tests on the shelf.
Despite state and federal attempts to provide free examinations, some families are still spending hundreds of dollars on testing.
Others claim it’s too difficult to find testing, so they don’t do it at all.
In the meanwhile, businesses have had varying degrees of success in obtaining examinations for their employees.
The president also announced intentions to send military medical personnel to six states’ hospitals.
According to the White House, the teams will be stationed in the Cleveland Clinic, Coney Island Hospital in New York, Rhode Island Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, University of New Mexico Hospital, and University Hospital in New Jersey.
According to the White House, additional military medical teams will be deployed to other states as needed in the coming weeks.
Mr. Biden said 1,000 military soldiers would be dispatched to hospitals in the coming months during a speech in December, but he didn’t specify which hospitals would get the extra help.
Mr. Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted once more, claiming that the Omicron outbreak was wreaking havoc on the unvaccinated.
“Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people test positive, but what occurs afterward couldn’t be more different,” he added, noting that unvaccinated persons who get the virus are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people.
He also urged social media and media businesses to keep an eye on vaccine disinformation on their platforms.