Biden announces new measures to combat Omicron threat | Coronavirus pandemic news

U.S. President Joe Biden said teams of military medical personnel would be dispatched to help six states hard-hit by COVID-19.

U.S. President Joe Biden has announced doubling rapid at-home COVID-19 testing and deploying medical personnel to six hardest-hit states as the country faces a surge in coronavirus testing Omicron variant case.

Biden announced in a speech Thursday that the federal government will double the order for rapid COVID-19 at-home tests that will be distributed to Americans for free.

“In addition to the 500 million tests that are being purchased to be shipped to your home for free, today I instruct my team to procure an additional 500 million tests for free distribution,” he said.

Biden also announced that starting next week, six federal teams of more than 120 military medical personnel will be sent to hospitals in the six hardest-hit states: Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Romania. Texas.

People waiting in line for a COVID-19 testUS President Joe Biden says at-home COVID-19 tests will be shipped to American homes for free [Jae C Hong/AP Photo]

The move comes amid concerns and frustration over the rapid spread of a highly contagious variant of Omicron that has overwhelmed medical facilities and caused staffing shortages across the United States.

“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter the new year that the Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations,” Biden said.

Rising cases have also led to major disruptions and closures of schools across the United States.

To help schools stay open, the White House on Wednesday Announce Starting this month, 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests will be made available to schools.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that the U.S. currently has an average Over 750,000 cases per day – A 47% increase from a week ago.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise. On average, 19,800 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 every day, a 33% increase from a week ago. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at the briefing that the daily death toll was up 40 percent compared to last week, to about 1,600 a day.

Masked children walking towards the teaching buildingRapid spread of Omicron variants has wreaked havoc in schools across the country [Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo]

“The risk of hospitalization remains low, especially in people who are newly vaccinated against COVID,” Valensky said. “However, the alarming increase of more than 1 million new cases per day has resulted in a high overall number of hospitalizations,” she said. “

Biden reiterated the importance of vaccinations in his speech on Thursday, calling for unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated. He also urged Americans to wear well-fitting masks.

“Vaccinations are obviously the most important thing we’re doing, but they’re not the only thing,” he said.

“Please wear a mask,” Biden said. “I think it’s part of your patriotic duty. It’s either very comfortable or a sore neck.”

Biden said his administration is planning to provide free high-quality N95 masks, which are the most effective at preventing the spread of the virus. He said his government would release details next week.