Biden Buys 500 Million More Covid Tests, Sends Surge Teams to 6 States

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President Joe Biden said the federal government will buy another 500 million rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, distribute free masks and distribute free masks to relieve overwhelmed hospitals in six states in its latest push to combat the rapidly spreading virus. The military will send medical teams.

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The additional tests delivered on Thursday would double the number of free tests the government plans to mail to Americans requesting it, to 1 billion.

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The administration defending its response to the COVID-19 pandemic has faced criticism for misleading recommendations on isolation and testing and a widespread lack of tests. Hospitals are reporting shortage of staff and high number of cases.

“I know we are all disappointed as we enter the new year,” Biden said Thursday at the White House.

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The US reported nearly 895,000 new Covid cases and more than 2,400 deaths on Wednesday, and the seven-day daily case average of 786,000, up 159% from two weeks ago, according to The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. More than. ,

According to Johns Hopkins, more than 151,000 people are hospitalized with Kovid. The latest surge comes with the spread of the Omicron variant, which makes up 98% of US cases.

As part of what he called a “whole-government” escalation response, Biden announced that six more military medical teams with more than 120 people were helping hospitals in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode. are going to do. island.

This is in addition to the more than 800 military and federal medical personnel who have already been deported to the states, including more than 350 military nurses, doctors and staff and more than 14,000 National Guard members helping local hospitals. .

The US has tripled its stockpile of N95 masks, and Biden said the administration would provide masks for free to those who cannot afford them. Details of that program will be announced next week.

Biden said record high hospitalizations across the country were still an “unvaccinated epidemic”.

Biden said those who remain without vaccination are 17 times more likely to need hospitalization – “overcrowding hospitals” and preventing others from accessing medical care – and more likely to die, Biden said. . more than 845,000 According to Johns Hopkins, Americans have died of coronavirus.

Biden cited the example of United Airlines, which lost one employee a week to COVID-19, before requiring its employees to be vaccinated. It’s been over eight weeks now for the airline with zero deaths.

“If you haven’t vaccinated, do it,” Biden said.

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