Covid-19 News: Booster and Variant Updates
President Biden has stepped up pressure on Congress to approve billions of dollars in emergency coronavirus aid, using a White House speech on Wednesday to warn that US progress against Covid-19 would be in serious jeopardy. if Congress doesn’t act now.
“It’s not partisan. It’s medicine,” Mr. Biden said. At the end of his remarks, he rolled up his sleeve to get his second booster shot, in line with a recent decision by federal regulators to allow shots for Americans over 50.
Mr. Biden also highlighted a new one-stop coronavirus website, covid.gov, aiming to helping Americans access to tests, treatments, vaccines and masks, and to assess the risk of Covid-19 in their neighborhoods. the website is online Wednesday morning.
Mr. Biden’s website and speech are part of a larger effort to pull the country out of pandemic crisis mode and usher in what experts call the “next normal” — a phase in which Americans will learn to living with the risk of Covid-19 and adjusting behaviors like mask-wearing based on rising or falling cases and hospitalizations.
This strategy depends on the availability of vaccines and treatments, and the administration says it has run out of money for both. The White House has pleaded with Republicans in Congress to approve $22.5 billion in emergency aid to buy new vaccines and treatments, and reimburse doctors caring for uninsured Covid-19 patients.
The federal government recently said a fund set up to reimburse doctors was no longer accepting these requests for testing and treatment “due to a lack of sufficient funds.”
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers expressed optimism that a deal could be reached before Congress leaves next week for a two-week recess in April, with meetings and private talks expected to continue on Wednesday. But it’s still unclear how the package will be paid for — a crucial Republican demand that has delayed passage.
“We’re looking at all the pots of money that haven’t been spent,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah. “And we’re going to offer some flexibility between us and the Democrats on those buckets, but we’re making progress and hopefully we get there soon.”
Mr. Romney has held talks with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, who has warned of dire consequences if a deal is not struck. “If Covid comes back to us, another variant, and we are unprepared and it takes two, three months to kick off and then the new variant has its tentacles deep in our society, woe to us,” he said. said Mr. Schumer.
While new coronavirus case reports are declining in the United States, a highly transmissible Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 has led to an increase in cases in Europe, and many experts expect this that the United States will soon see the same thing. If that happens, it will be the first major test of the country’s new strategy of living with the virus while limiting its impact.
Across the country, state and local governments have eased restrictions such as mask and vaccine mandates. The White House and federal health officials have argued for weeks that Americans now have the tools — testing infrastructure, masks and other mitigation strategies, drugs and vaccines — to live with the threat of the virus.
On Tuesday, federal health officials authorized second booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for everyone 50 or older and for many people with certain immune deficiencies, at least four months after their first recall. They described the move as an effort to bolster waning immunity against serious illnesses before another surge could take hold.
In his State of the Union address, Mr Biden announced a new “test to treat” initiative – a network of pharmacies and other sites where people can be tested for coronavirus and then receive medication antivirals if positive. More than 2,000 sites are participating, the White House said. covid.gov website has a “test to treat” location tool to help people find participating locations.
Under a banner saying “Find Covid-19 advice for your community”, the website asks users to enter the name of the county in which they live. It then identifies whether the risk of Covid-19 in that county is low, medium or high, based on factors such as the number of hospitalizations and available hospital beds.