(Washington) Tests, strengthened vaccination capacities and additional resources for hospitals, but no new restrictions before Christmas: the White House on Tuesday detailed Joe Biden’s strategy against the Omicron variant, which is sweeping the country.
A senior White House official detailed at a press conference, which was under embargo, the measures to be announced by the US president at 2:30 p.m., while the new variant of COVID-19 is now in the majority on new infections in the United States.
The tone is as proactive as it is reassuring: “We have the tools to face this wave,” said this source, adding that if Americans “are vaccinated and follow the precautions that we know well, in particular wear a mask when they travel, they can celebrate Christmas and the end of the year celebrations calmly ”.
“There is no need to confine our schools or our economy,” added the senior official.
The response of the Biden administration follows three principles: more hospital resources, more tests, more vaccines.
The federal government will mobilize a thousand doctors, nurses or medical personnel from the army, who can be deployed if necessary across the country in January and February.
Washington is also already sending additional emergency teams to six states (Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire and Vermont), and preparing emergency transport means as well as equipment (protective equipment and respirators) for hospitals that need them.
“We are ready for an increase, which we anticipate, in hospitalizations of unvaccinated people in the coming months,” said the previously cited source.
The Biden administration will also act in an area where it has been widely criticized, that of screening, by purchasing 500 million rapid tests for COVID-19, to be done at home. They will be delivered free of charge to Americans who request them via a dedicated website, starting in January.
The federal government also promises to open new vaccination centers.
“We have to take Omicron seriously, we have to be concerned, but we should not panic,” the senior official said, echoing the refrain from Joe Biden.
The American president, who was elected on the promise of ending the pandemic, is playing very big in an America both tired of COVID-19, anxious about the arrival of the very contagious variant Omicron and in part still refractory to vaccination.
The Democrat, who is already struggling to impose a vaccination obligation in large companies, has therefore not decided for the moment to tighten the screw any further, for example by imposing health measures for domestic flights.
Cancellations of shows and sporting events are on the rise in the United States, some cities such as Boston are implementing strengthened health protocols and in some areas, schools have decided not to reopen their doors immediately after the Christmas holidays.