Biden says ‘more work to do’ amid testing scramble
President Biden acknowledged Monday there is “more work to do” on COVID-19 testing in the U.S. after many scrambled to get tests over Christmas and ahead of New Year’s Day amid a sharp rise in cases.
“Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do. We’re doing it,” Biden said on a White House COVID-19 response team call with governors to discuss the administration’s response to the omicron variant.
“I know the lines have gotten very long in some states,” he said, adding that he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up pop-up sites in places with high demand such as New York City, where six new sites were stood up in the last five days.
Biden also pointed to a new partnership with Google to find testing locations on the search engine, saying, “We worked with Google so you can now search ‘COVID test near me’ on Google.”
While acknowledging the need for more testing, the president touted the wider availability of over-the-counter tests, noting that eight at-home tests are now on the market and another was cleared last week.
“But it’s not enough, it’s clearly not enough,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the first at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19 in December 2020.
The president pointed to an announcement last week that the federal government would purchase 500 million tests to send to Americans free of charge, which will be ready for delivery in January, and another recent announcement that Americans with private health insurance will be able to get reimbursed for tests next month.
“But we have to do more,” he said.
The president discussed with governors on the call the surge in cases but added that there hasn’t been a sharp rise in hospitalizations so far, attributing that to COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots in the U.S.
“Let me start with this, because we have so many vaccinated and boosted, we’re not seeing hospitalizations drive as sharply as we did in March of 2020 or even this past fall. America has made progress, things are better,” he said. “But we do know that with a rising cases, we still have tens of millions of unvaccinated people and we’re seeing hospitalizations rise.”
“The bottom line is we want to assure the American people we are prepared, we know what it takes,” he added.
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