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The rise of the Omicron variant has left many Americans wondering what the future of the COVID-19 pandemic looks like. With ever-increasing case numbers, COVID-19 seems to be an increasing threat in the daily lives of people all across the country. President Biden and the White House have rolled out a plan in hopes of easing the burden. Read on below for all the details of the White House’s COVID-19 response plan, including new federal help with testing and masks.
Path Out of the Pandemic
President Biden and the White House have released a 6-point COVID-19 action plan called Path Out of the Pandemic. This initiative includes vaccinating the unvaccinated, further protecting the vaccinated, keeping schools safely open, increasing testing & requiring masking, protecting our economic recovery, and improving care for those with COVID-19.
Free COVID-19 tests
Starting on January 19th, each home in the U.S. can order up to four free COVID-19 tests through the website COVIDtests.gov. The White House has been working for the last few weeks in conjunction with the postal service to make this free service possible. President Biden initially planned to send out 500 million of these free testing kits but has since doubled the goal to 1 billion tests.
Additionally, the White House has sent over 25 million free tests to food banks and community health centers to provide testing and care for the homeless. Over 10,000 pharmacies have also been included in a federal plan from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide even more free testing options.
The US government currently has a supply of over 750 million high-quality N95 masks and plans to distribute these among citizens as well. No formal plan has been revealed as of now, but last week President Biden tweeted, “Next week, my administration will announce how we are making high-quality masks available to the American people for free.” More news on this initiative will be coming shortly.
President Biden’s plan continues to emphasize mask-wearing as well as implementing mandates and restrictions in certain circumstances. Masks and social distancing are still required on all federal property. These restrictions and guidelines will continue to be updated as the CDC releases more information about the Omicron variant.
Will there be any more lockdowns?
While COVID-19 is certainly still a threat and something to be cautious of, President Biden and the White House recognize that economic shutdown is also a threat to the everyday American. Their plan focuses on “using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives,” without increasing the hardship for small businesses and working-class people.
The vaccine is key
While masks and tests may be helpful, health experts say that the best protection against COVID-19 remains getting vaccinated, which is why encouraging vaccination is the first point in the White House COVID-19 response plan. COVID-19 vaccinations are available and recommended for anyone over the age of 5, and booster shots have recently been approved for anyone over 12.