Healthcare

Biden says ‘COVID-19 no longer need control our lives’

Julia Nikhinson

President Biden said Tuesday that the country has reached a “new moment” in the fight against COVID-19 in which the virus “no longer need control our lives.” 

Biden’s first State of the Union address comes as the omicron wave has descended, governors across the country are lifting mask mandates, including in schools, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance saying about 70 percent of the country is in areas where they no longer need to wear masks.  

“We’ve reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19, where severe cases are down to a level not seen since July of last year,” Biden said.  

“Thanks to the progress we have made in the past year, COVID-19 no longer need control our lives,” he added. 

He cautioned, though, that the virus is not going to completely go away, a fine line for the administration to walk given the threat of a new, more dangerous variant in the future. The delta variant’s rise threw a wrench in the administration’s plans after Biden previously touted progress at the Fourth of July last year.

“I know some are talking about ‘living with COVID-19,’” he said. “Tonight — I say that we never will just accept living with COVID-19. We will continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases. And because this virus mutates and spreads, we have to stay on guard.” 

He outlined a range of steps aimed at preparing for the future and fighting the new phase of the virus.  

To aid in these efforts, he said he would “soon” be sending Congress a request for more funding to fight COVID-19. Congress faces a March 11 deadline to fund the government. The administration has already informally requested $30 billion focused on domestic efforts and $5 billion for the global response, which some advocates have criticized as too small to vaccinate the world.  

Pointing to vaccines, treatments, tests and masks, he said, “The vast majority of Americans have used these tools and we may need them again, so I expect Congress, and I hope you’ll pass that quickly.” 

Starting next week, even people who have already ordered their four free tests on covidtests.gov will be able to order more tests, Biden said.  

In addition, a new “test to treat” program will allow people to get tested at a pharmacy, and if they are positive, get treatment pills for free on the spot.  

With many office workers working from home for roughly two years, Biden said the country is at a point in the virus fight where that can change.  

“It’s time for America to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again with people,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe and begin to return to their offices.”   

“We’re doing that here in the federal government,” he added. “The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.” 

As COVID-19 measures like masks have divided the country, Biden closed his virus message with a call for more unity going forward. 

“Let’s use this moment to reset,” he said. “So stop looking at COVID-19 as a partisan dividing line. See it for what it is: a God-awful disease. Let’s stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we are: fellow Americans.”   

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 COVID-19 pandemic Joe Biden

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