U.S. President Joe Biden has said teams of military medical personnel will be dispatched to help six states hit hard by COVID.
President Joe Biden of the United States has announced the doubling of rapid COVID-19 tests at home and the deployment of medical personnel to six states hit hard as the country faces a boom. Omicron variant incidents.
Biden announced in a speech Thursday that the federal government will double its order of rapid, home COVID-19 tests that will be distributed free to Americans.
“In addition to the 500 million that are in the process of being obtained to send to your homes for free, today I recommend my team to obtain an additional 500 million more tests to distribute for free,” he said.
Biden also announced that from next week, six federal teams consisting of more than 120 military medical personnel will each be sent to hospitals in six hard-hit states: Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island.
The move came amid growing concern – and frustration – over the rapid spread of the highly portable Omicron variant that has overwhelmed medical facilities and caused staff shortages across the US.
“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year, the Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations,” Biden said.
The rising cases have also caused major disruptions and closures in schools across the US.
In an effort to help keep schools open, the White House on Wednesday announced that five million rapid tests and five million laboratory-based PCR tests will be made available to schools from this month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday that the U.S. currently has a weekly average of more than 750,000 cases per day – a 47 percent increase from a week before.
Hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing. An average of 19,800 people are admitted to hospital every day due to COVID, an increase of 33 percent from a week ago. And daily deaths have increased by 40 percent from last week, at a rate of about 1,600 a day, Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a briefing.
“The risk of hospitalization remains low, especially among people who are aware of their COVID vaccines,” Walensky said. “However, the staggering increase in cases of more than one million new cases every day has led to a large number of total hospitalizations,” she said.
In his speech Thursday, Biden reiterated the importance of vaccinations and called on unvaccinated Americans to get their shots fired. He also encouraged Americans to wear well-fitting masks.
“Vaccinations are obviously the most important thing we do, but they are not the only important thing,” he said.
“Please wear a mask,” Biden said. “I think it is part of your patriotic duty. It’s not so comfortable, it’s a pain in the neck. ”
Biden said his administration plans to make high-quality N95 masks, which are most effective at preventing the transmission of the virus, available for free. He said his administration would release details next week.