WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden admitted on Monday his administration has not done enough to extend testing capacity for Covid-19 and vowed there’s more work to be done as Americans wait days for their results.
Biden said the steps he took earlier this year to expand testing were not enough to meet the high demand amid the highly transmissible Omicron variant infecting all 50 states.
“It’s not enough. It’s clearly not enough. If we’d have known, we’d have gone harder, quicker if we could have,” he said. “Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we’re doing it.”
Biden’s remarks come a week after he laid out his plan to combat the virus and for accelerating testing and vaccinations. Part of that plan includes ordering 500 million at-home rapid tests that Americans can get for free via a government website.
Some of the steps came too late for the Christmas holiday after thousands of flights were canceled due to the threat of the Omicron variant after the airline staff tested positive. The new tests, and the website where Americans can order them, won’t be in place until next month, the White House has said.
Biden joined his Covid-19 response team on a call with 25 governors from across the country. During the call, the President admitted that Covid-19 won’t be solved at the federal level but at the state level.
“There is no federal solution — this gets solved at the state level,” Biden said. “That ultimately gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help — or preventing the need for help.”
He added, “My message to the governors is simple: if you need something, say something. We’re going to have your back in any way we can.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is a Republican, thanked Biden but also issued the President a word of caution regarding his plan to distribute 500 million at-home tests.
“As you look towards federal solutions that will help alleviate the challenge, make sure we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions,” Hutchinson said.
Biden responded by saying he will use the Defense Production Act to produce as many tests as possible and private insurance will reimburse people for the cost of purchasing an at-home test.
As he left the White House for Delaware, where he’ll ring in the New Year, Biden was asked about his call with the governors.
“They didn’t tell me they’re worried, but they thanked me for the cooperation they’re getting. They said they’ve gotten all that they need, they just want to know what we think is going to happen from here,” he said. “There were no complaints, a lot of cooperation.”