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Faced with the Omicron variant, Biden launches the health and political offensive



(Washington) Joe Biden on Thursday called on Americans to overcome their divisions to fight COVID-19, as the onset of winter and the new Omicron variant threaten to relaunch the pandemic, and further weaken the American president.

“I know COVID-19 has been a divisive subject in this country” and that it “has become a partisan subject, which is a sad […] report. It shouldn’t be the case, ”he said in a speech to the leading federal agency for medical research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“As we move into winter and face the challenge of this new variant, now is the time, I hope, to try to overcome those divisions,” said the 79-year-old Democrat.

“We are playing the big game,” his spokesperson Jen Psaki assured Thursday. But in fact, the White House has not unveiled any spectacular announcements, and above all, has been careful not to take restrictive or restrictive measures for American citizens.

Joe Biden is already trying to impose vaccination in public and private companies, but meets strong opposition from many Republicans, and stumbles on legal proceedings launched against these restrictive measures.

The subject threatens even the budgetary stability of the first world power.

A handful of Republicans, many often close to Donald Trump, are threatening to block a budget law to prevent the paralysis (shutdown) of US federal services. Their argument: the text would help finance the implementation of vaccine obligations, which they oppose.

Tests and vaccines

Perhaps the most salient point of the measures presented on Thursday is the strengthening of requirements for international travelers.

From “the beginning of next week”, in addition to being vaccinated, they will have to present a negative test carried out the day before departure instead of three days before.

Inside the borders, the Biden administration is extending until March 18 the obligation to wear the mask on public transport, which was due to expire in January.

The White House also announces that the tests carried out at home will be reimbursed by private health insurance – according to conditions that remain to be defined – and that the number of tests distributed free of charge will be doubled, to 50 million.

Joe Biden also wants to launch “hundreds” of “family” vaccination clinics.

With less than 60% of Americans of all ages being fully immunized, he must convince those who aren’t to take the plunge, but also persuade those who are to receive a booster dose, while encouraging parents to do so. vaccinate their children from the age of 5 years.

The political stake is immense for the Democrat, with approximately one year of legislative elections of mid-term.

Joe Biden fails to capitalize on the economic rebound in the United States, nor does he manage to generate excitement with massive investment plans.

His Republican opponents have repeatedly reminded him that the coronavirus has continued to kill hundreds of Americans every day since his election.

While before the summer a large majority of Americans trusted the Democratic president to face the pandemic when he was elected, they are now less than 50% in this case, according to the latest polls.

The White House has a limited number of levers because of the very extensive powers of the American states.

There remains one, however, that it would be very risky politically to activate: put in place test or vaccine requirements for air travel within the United States, on the model of what is required of travelers arriving from abroad.

“Nothing is excluded, including for domestic journeys”, however assured Thursday Jen Psaki.

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