White House 'Pulling Out the Stops' With New COVID Plan

Strategy includes focus on at-home testing, booster shots
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2021 6:43 AM CST
White House 'Pulling Out the Stops' With New COVID Plan
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, as White House press secretary Jen Psaki watches.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – President Biden is set to roll out his administration's winter COVID strategy Thursday—and he says the nation will fight the virus "not with shutdowns or lockdowns but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing, and more." The White House says the new strategy, which Biden will unveil in a speech at the National Institutes of Health, includes a plan for private insurers to reimburse people for at-home COVID tests and a "new effort to launch hundreds of vaccination clinics around the country," the New York Times reports. More:

  • At-home testing. Officials say some details are still being worked out, but the plan to have insurers cover home tests should mean easier access to home tests for around 150 million Americans, the AP reports. Officials tell the Times that guidance on the new policy, which will not be retroactive, will be released by Jan. 15

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  • "Pulling out all the stops." White House officials say the new strategy aims to keep schools and businesses open despite concerns about the new omicron variant. "We are pulling out all the stops to get people the maximum amount of protection as we head into winter months," a senior official told reporters Wednesday night, per the Washington Post.
  • Tougher rules for travelers. The strategy will include stricter requirements for incoming travelers starting early next week, the Hill reports. Officials say air passengers will have to show a negative COVID test taken within 24 hours of their flight. The current rule requires the test to have been taken within three days of the flight. The federal mask mandate for trains, buses, and planes, which had been due to expire in January, will be extended until mid-March.
  • Booster shots. Administration officials—who believe convincing those already vaccinated to get a booster will be easier than persuading 43 million unvaccinated Americans to get the shot—have made boosters a central part of the strategy, the AP reports. The administration is working with the AARP to step up direct outreach to seniors.
(The first omicron case in the US was detected Wednesday.)

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