March 2, 2022 — In his first State of the Union tackle on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden urged Individuals to not let their guard down in opposition to COVID-19 and pledged to make extra checks and coverings obtainable. On Wednesday, his workforce unveiled plans to get began.
The brand new Nationwide COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which officers mentioned would require motion from Congress – focuses on retaining companies and faculties open, enhancing entry to testing and therapy, and stopping future public well being crises.
“By defending in opposition to and treating covid, making ready for any new variants, stopping financial and college shutdowns, and vaccinating the world and saving lives, the president’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan will allow us to maneuver ahead safely to get again to our extra regular routines,” mentioned White Home Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients at a Wednesday briefing.
Zients elaborated on the “check to deal with” initiative the president talked about throughout his State of the Union tackle on Tuesday, which might develop entry to antiviral capsules and different COVID-19 therapies.
This month, lots of of one-stop websites will open throughout the nation that may enable individuals to obtain therapy for COVID-19 instantly after testing constructive, Zients mentioned. Places will embrace native pharmacy clinics, neighborhood well being facilities, long-term care services, and veterans’ well being services.
Congressional leaders have already been briefed on the necessity for near-term funding to safe extra vaccines, antivirals therapies, and continued vaccines analysis, the White Home mentioned. The quantity wanted was not disclosed.
High infectious illness skilled Anthony S. Fauci, MD, mentioned the plan’s give attention to vaccine analysis and improvement would assist to make sure that any “up to date vaccines will be developed, accredited and manufactured in roughly 100 days.”
Together with increasing entry to viral therapies and checks, Biden’s new plan would tackle long COVID and mental health by directing the federal authorities to speed up its efforts to detect, forestall and deal with these points.
Zients referred to as the president’s plan “sturdy and complete,” however famous, “the execution of the plan requires further funding from Congress.”
Some 950,000 Individuals have died from COVID-19, however Biden didn’t point out the pandemic once more till 36 minutes into his speech. He first addressed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflation, and the infrastructure regulation.
Later, Biden revealed a brand new “check to deal with” program wherein individuals who check constructive for coronavirus at a pharmacy will likely be supplied Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid at no cost, “on the spot.” The tablet reduces the prospect of hospitalization by 90%, the president mentioned. Pfizer will present the U.S. authorities with 1 million capsules in March and greater than 2 million in April.
What’s extra, beginning the week of March 7, a brand new batch of COVID-19 checks will likely be made obtainable for Individuals to order for residence supply by COVIDtests.gov. The president additionally famous that he plans to ask Congress for more cash to maintain funding free vaccines, checks, masks, and coverings.
Final 12 months, the president didn’t give a standard State of the Union, as a substitute making an tackle to a joint session of Congress virtually 100 days after he took workplace. The viewers was restricted attributable to COVID-related social distancing restrictions.
For this 12 months’s tackle, attendees have been required to take a COVID-19 check earlier than getting into the Home of Representatives chambers. However given the brand new CDC steering issued Feb. 25 that relaxed masks guidelines, the 535 members of Congress, friends, and dignitaries who have been invited to this 12 months’s occasion weren’t required to put on masks.
However some Republicans refused to attend over the COVID testing requirement.
“I’m NOT permitted on the Home flooring tonight even supposing the seventeenth District of Florida voted me to characterize them within the Folks’s Home as a result of I didn’t undergo all of Dictator Pelosi’s medical protocol and COVID testing,” Florida Rep. Greg Steube mentioned in a tweet.
In the meantime, “I’m carrying a masks tonight on the #SOTU as a result of all of us must do not forget that the immunocompromised and people over 60 stay at larger threat of extreme sickness and hospitalization from COVID-19,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts mentioned on Twitter.
Divisions over COVID-related restrictions and COVID vaccines are additionally obvious in polling. Whereas 62% of adults in a Kaiser Household Basis poll mentioned they assume the worst of the pandemic “is behind us,” extra Democrats and independents than Republicans mentioned that lifting restrictions might improve the variety of deaths and go away immune-compromised individuals behind.
Biden indicated that he would proceed to raise extra restrictions, saying it’s “time for Individuals to get again to work” and “our children should be in class.”
He additionally urged Individuals to “cease taking a look at COVID-19 as a partisan dividing line and see it for what it’s: A God-awful illness.”
“Let’s cease seeing one another as enemies and begin seeing one another for who we actually are: fellow Individuals,” the president mentioned.