“My plan I’m announcing today pulls no punches in the fight against COVID-19,” He said.
At the National Institutes of Health, Biden attempted a balancing act: preventing panic while taking aggressive steps to combat the spread of Omicron.
He said, “We moved forward in the face of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, and we’ll move forward in the face of Omicron variant as well.”
Biden will impose stricter testing requirements on U.S.-bound travelers, extend TSA’s mask mandate, launch mobile family vaccine clinics, move to require private insurers to pay the cost of at-home tests and boost access for those without it.
There are some caveats to Biden’s new campaign, given insurance won’t pay for past test purchases and the rule likely won’t go into effect for at least six weeks.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “We expect to have the final rules on this and have this implemented in mid-January, so I expect additional details about how it will work and the functioning of it will be out in that timeline.”
Americans are currently split on Biden’s handling of the pandemic with 44% approving while 48% disapprove.
The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found most fully-vaccinated adults in the U.S. plan to get a booster, but nearly one in five said they “probably” or “definitely” won’t, despite CDC recommendations.
Thursday, Biden made an appeal to stop the pandemic from being so political.
“I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country, it’s become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary,” Biden said. “It shouldn’t be, but it has been. This is a moment we can put the divisiveness behind us, I hope.”
The president’s attempts to mandate vaccines in some capacities have hit a slew of legal challenges and led to a political fight with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“While my existing federal vaccination requirements are being reviewed by the courts, this plan does not expand or add to those mandates,” Biden said.
The federal mask mandate requiring travelers to wear masks in airports, on planes and on other modes of public transportation has been extended through March 18th.