Biden & Omicron: President says White House was caught off guard

President Joe Biden speaks about the country’s fight against coronavirus disease at the White House in Washington, DC on December 21, 2021.
(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Speaking to the public on Tuesday, President Joe Biden blamed the shortage of Covid-19 tests on the rapid rise of the Omicron variant, which germinated in South Africa just after Thanksgiving and has since swept the country at astonishing speed .

A number of journalists have voiced concerns from citizens who were unable to obtain Covid-19 tests due to insufficient inventory before Christmas.

“What is your message to Americans who are trying to get tested now and are unable to get tested and are wondering what took so long to speed up testing?” A reporter asked the president.

Biden replied, “Come on, what took so long? What took so long was, it didn’t take long at all. What happened was that the Omicron virus has spread faster than expected. If I had told you four weeks ago that it would spread 50%, 100%, 500% day to day, I think you would would have looked and said “Biden, what are you drinking?” “

CDC director Rochelle Walensky last Friday urged more testing to reduce transmission before the holidays. “For that extra assurance, because we have more illnesses in this country right now, take a test and make sure you are negative before you mix and congregate in different households,” she said. But across the country, stock shelves are all depleted by testing. People lined up at clinics and pharmacies in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, etc., but many left empty-handed.

While Biden said his administration could not have prepared for the panic of the “counter rush” tests, the CDC and publications like the New York Times, ProPublica and Reuters have reported an inadequate testing offer since at least September. Critics of Biden’s statement pointed out that the administration has several weeks, especially given the window allowed by the Africa travel ban, to speed up production and distribution of the tests.

Biden assured the public that the nation’s overwhelming wave does not mean the United States returned to the dire situation of March 2020, when the original strain of the virus emerged.

“No, we are not in March 2020. 200 million people are fully vaccinated. We are ready. We know more. We just need to stay focused, ”he said.

He noted that the government has deployed a huge amount of manpower, such as National Guard troops, and material and financial resources to the midpoint of the peak. Biden confirmed that the government has invested generous funds to provide Americans with more home testing and to set up more vaccination and testing sites in cities and towns.

“The president announces that his administration will purchase half a billion rapid home tests this winter that will be distributed free to Americans who want them, with initial delivery starting in January 2022. The administration will create a website where Americans can go. have home tests delivered to their homes – free of charge, ”the White House announced on Tuesday.

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