WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday reassured vaccinated Americans they can still continue with their Christmas and holiday plans despite the ongoing threat from the omicron variant around the country.
The speech comes just four days before Christmas as Biden puts a renewed focus on the coronavirus pandemic as anxiety rises amid new infections across the nation.
“I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends. The answer is, yes you can if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you’ve gotten your booster shot,” Biden said.
“The other question folks are asking is, ‘Are we going back to March 2020?’ … The answer is absolutely no. No,” Biden said.
The President announced the federal government will start mailing free at-home rapid Covid-19 tests to Americans beginning in January and also announced he is directing 1,000 members of the military to help hospitals that are short-staffed amid a surge in cases and deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist with overflow at hospitals that are at capacity.
“To be clear, we’re not sending a test to every single home in the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “We are providing an opportunity, another opportunity or ability for people to … go on a website and request a test if their preference is to get that test to their home. Not everybody will do that. But we want people who want to do that, who want to get tested, who want to request a test that way to have that ability to do (it).”
The President warned the 40 million Americans who have not been vaccinated they face a potentially high risk of becoming ill or hospitalized, saying former President Trump got his booster.
“I got my booster shot as soon as they were available,” Biden said, “and just the other day former President Trump announced he had gotten his booster shot.”
“It may be one of the few things he and I agree on,” Biden added. “People with booster shots are highly protected. Join them, join us.”
Biden addressed the rise in cases and acknowledge that cases will continue to go up. The President has previously said lockdowns are not a part of his plans to combat the virus in the winter, instead, focusing on those who still aren’t vaccinated.
The idea of free at-home testing was shot down by the White House just a few weeks ago. Psaki poked fun at the idea at a press briefing when a reporter asked about the complicated testing process compared to other countries around the world.
She was asked if she regretted her answer at Tuesday’s briefing and replied that she did.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t leave this podium and wish I would’ve said something with the greater context or more precision or additional information,” Psaki said during Tuesday’s press briefing. “That day, there was a lot of good questioning on testing, and during that briefing, I conveyed a lot of information about our expansion of testing, about the 50 million tests that we were making available, about the 20,000 free testing sites. And should I have included that additional context again in that answer? Yes, going back I wish I would’ve done that.”