Biden Outlines COVID-19 Plans in State of the Union Address
(Washington D.C.) — President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that “it’s time for Americans to get back to work” as he announced new efforts to allow people to return to normal activities safely after two years of pandemic disruptions.
Biden used his State of the Union address to announce that his administration was launching a “test-to-treat” initiative to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to those who test positive for the virus.
He highlighted also the improvements made to the pandemic situation since last years, including a drastic reduction of the cases, easily-accessible vaccines and testing, and the emergence of new therapies that will soon be more readily accessible.
“Tonight, I can say we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” Biden said. “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
His comments come ahead of the White House release of a new “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” on Wednesday. The White House said it would be “a roadmap that will enable us to move forward safely, and sustain and build on the progress we’ve made over the past 13 months.”
Biden spoke Tuesday and stated that, in addition the launch of the new antiviral program, the administration would also allow American citizens to receive a second round free government testing.
Pfizer’s antiviral medication has been found to decrease the COVID-19-related hospitalization risk by as much as 90%. Administration officials say that there will be 1 million available by April’s end.
A White House official said the “test-to-treat” plan will initially roll out in hundreds of pharmacies across the country, including CVS, Walgreens, and Kroger locations. Antiviral medications will be immediately available to anyone who tests positive.
Biden stated that four more tests would be made available to American households starting next week via COVIDTests.gov. This website, which already has more than 270,000,000 free tests sent to more than 70 million households, launched in mid January.
Continue reading: The At-Home COVID-19 Testing System Will Soon be Available
After a spike in the Omicron variant, COVID-19 has fallen to its lowest point since last summer. However, deaths are still high, and often occur weeks after cases. Each day, nearly 1,700 Americans die. U.S. officials stress that many of America’s serious diseases and deaths are caused by those who were not vaccinated, or have not had a booster shot of vaccines.
Earlier Tuesday, Biden extended the federal government’s 100% reimbursement of COVID-19 emergency response costs to states, tribes and territories through July 1, the White House announced Tuesday.
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Coordinator informed Governors via conference call that Biden has approved the extension FEMA support. This will allow FEMA to continue its efforts such as vaccination clinics and mass testing sites. It also allows for increased hospital resources in order to handle local cases.
“FEMA’s priority throughout the response to COVID-19 has been to coordinate and provide the necessary resources and personnel states, tribes and territories need to adequately respond to the pandemic,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said. “Today’s extension of the 100% cost-share through July 1, 2022, builds on our efforts to assist impacted communities across state and federal levels.”
It is clear that, despite Biden trying to lead the nation to live with COVID-19 while cases recede, the White House sees the need for federal resources to fight COVID-19.
FEMA funding includes $1.2 Million given to Ball State University (Indiana) last month to fund on-campus testing, and $91.8 million granted to Wisconsin to reimburse COVID-19 test costs and increase staffing at treatment centers.
Biden is a Democrat. He signed the first order directing FEMA that 100% state emergency costs related coronavirus to be covered by FEMA on his second day of office. This continued through September 2021. It was extended to September 2021, and then again until April 1.