WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – President Biden will speak to the country Tuesday about the Omicron surge. He’s expected to unveil new steps to help communities tackle the highly-contagious variant that has spread across the country alarmingly quickly, just as millions of Americans are traveling for Christmas gatherings.
With Omicron tearing across the country now officially the dominant strain of COVID in the U.S., President Biden is preparing to address the nation about his administration’s response.
New steps include sending 500 million free at-home tests to Americans who request them through a new website along with adding more testing sites and pop-up vaccination clinics.
The administration is also sending 1,000 military members to back up hospital staff and deploying FEMA to set up overflow capacity at hospitals.
It comes as the White House announced the president tested negative following close contact with a staffer who contracted COVID.
The CDC said the highly-contagious Omicron variant now accounts for more than 73 percent of new cases
NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “You’re dealing with a virus that has an unprecedented capability of spreading extremely rapidly.”
Overnight, Texas health officials announced the first known Omicron-related death, an unvaccinated man with underlying health conditions.
For the fully-vaccinated and boosted, doctors are hopeful Omicron cases will be mild.
Like Pfizer before it, Moderna announced its booster shot significantly increases protection against Omicron.
Dr. Fauci said, “It will stop when we get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated and boosted.”
Now, as Americans rush home for the holiday, medical experts worry the Omicron surge is just getting started.
President Biden is also set to announce Tuesday his administration will be staging critical equipment like N-95 masks and ventilators at key locations around the country so they can be easily sent to hospitals when needed.
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