WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday the federal government will start mailing at-home rapid Covid-19 tests to Americans as part of his administration’s efforts to fight off a potential Covid winter surge.
The 500 million new tests will be made available beginning next month and will be free for Americans who request them through a website.
This is just one of a series of steps the Biden administration is planning as health expires fear for a potential winter surge amid the omicron variant ripping its way through the country. The White House did not detail how many tests each household can receive or how quickly.
Additionally, the federal government also plans to set up 20,000 new testing sites nationwide. The news comes as testing remains an issue for the administration as it attempts to tackle the omicron threat head-on. In recent days there have been long lines forming at testing centers around the country.
The omicron variant has forced several sports teams to postpone games and entertainment venues to halt production on shows due to a rise in cases. Health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated and boosted as the best way to protect themselves.
The idea of free at-home testing was shot down by the White House just a few weeks ago. Press secretary Jen 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.
“Should we just send one to every American?” Psaki asked in response.
The President will give remarks Tuesday afternoon and will likely address the rise in cases and acknowledge that cases will continue to go up. Biden 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.
Biden will also announce Tuesday 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.
In his remarks, the President will discuss the importance of getting vaccinated, saying those who aren’t vaccinated are likely to get infected in the coming months. According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention, 40 million Americans remain unvaccinated.
“Because Omicron spreads rapidly, we will see fully vaccinated people get Covid-19, but vaccinated people who get Covid will likely have no symptoms or mild symptoms,” a senior administration official said. “We will also note that if you are unvaccinated, you are at high risk of getting sick. This variant is highly transmissible, and the unvaccinated are eight times more likely to be hospitalized and 14 times more likely to die from Covid.”