White House announces new funds for COVID-19 testing and vaccination amid delta surge

White House announces new funds for COVID-19 testing and vaccination amid delta surge
© getty: Jeff Zients

The White House on Thursday announced new funding for vaccination and testing efforts as the delta variant fuels COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly among the unvaccinated.

The administration announced the release of about $100 million for rural health clinics to do vaccine outreach, given that many rural areas have lower vaccination rates and local health clinics can be a trusted source of information about vaccines.

“This funding will give trusted messengers in rural communities the tools they need to counsel patients on how COVID-19 vaccines can help protect them and their loved ones," said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care — Presented by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel endorses booster shots of Johnson & Johnson vaccine Biden administration to invest 0 million to boost health care, attract workers FDA guidance calls for voluntary salt reduction in food supply MORE.

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In addition, the administration announced $1.6 billion to support testing in prisons, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and other congregate settings.

"These resources will help local health officials and communities identify potential outbreaks before they happen and prevent the further spread of COVID-19," said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsOvernight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — NIH study finds mix-and-match boosters effective More than one-third of eligible seniors have received boosters, White House says White House tells states to prepare plans to vaccinate kids in coming weeks MORE.

The money comes from funding approved by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan relief package passed earlier this year.

Overall, though, as the delta variant fuels an increase in cases, the White House is still emphasizing that vaccinated people are largely protected, and the main action needed is for unvaccinated people to get the shots.

"We are concerned with the rise in cases among the unvaccinated," Zients said at a press briefing Thursday, but added: "The threat is now predominantly only to the unvaccinated."

The U.S. is averaging about 38,000 cases per day, an increase, but still well below the peaks from last winter of over 250,000 cases per day.