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Biden lays out winter plan to protect against COVID-19 delta, omicron variants

Posted at 8:04 AM, Dec 02, 2021

President Joe Biden announced his nine-point plan Thursday to protect Americans from the COVID-19 omicron variant over the winter.

"We're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion," Biden said.

While the omicron variant is just beginning to show up in the U.S., the delta variant is still making thousands of people sick every day.

Biden's strategy to combat both variants includes making at-home rapid tests accessible. The president said he will require the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests to be covered by private insurers.

Biden also announced he is strengthening testing requirements for people entering the U.S. regardless of their vaccination status.

"All inbound passengers must test within one day instead of three days prior to travel," Biden said.

The president addressed his travel ban from countries in Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected.

"While we know the travel restrictions can slow the spread of omicron, they cannot prevent it," he said. "But it does give us a little more time to take precautions at home."

Biden's full 9-point plan:

  1. Boosters for All Adults
  2. Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
  3. Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans
  4. Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel
  5. Protections in Workplaces to Keep Our Economy Open
  6. Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases
  7. Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death
  8. Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts
  9. Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios 

The CDC and the White House announced Wednesday that the first case of the omicron variant was identified in a person in California who tested positive after returning from South Africa on Nov. 22. A second confirmed case was identified in Minnesota Thursday.

The Biden administration says they are already in talks with vaccine developers to speed up the process if a booster is needed for the omicron variant.

"The Administration is working closely with executives at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for other vaccinations or boosters if needed," the White House said.

Biden said his plan does not include shutdowns or lockdowns. He believes the nine steps he proposed will allow the economy to grow.

On Monday, the CDC updated its recommendation on booster dosage by expanding it to cover everyone nationwide older than 18 years old.