President Joe Biden and his administration have been working to address the universal need for more Covid-19 testing, pledging to make more at-home rapid test kits available– but they are finding that Omicron is more challenging than they had previously thought.
The rise of Omicron in the US saw longer and longer testing lines and empty pharmacy shelves with no home tests in sight. Biden met with governors on Monday and remarked that his administration fell short in its aim to make rapid testing more accessible for Americans.
The President is now working to make 500 million home tests available this month, just after the explosive surge of cases that came with the holiday season.
“It’s not enough. It’s clearly not enough. If we’d have known, we’d have gone harder, quicker if we could have,” Biden said, referring to the intense holiday season surge of Omicron. In an interview with ABC News leading up to the Christmas holidays, the President was defensive against the claim that a lack of readily available home tests was a “failure,” but he did admit that “You could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago.” He then added that he regretted not ordering 500 million at-home tests “two months ago.”
CDC shortens Covid isolation time
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially shortened the amount of time those who have tested positive with Covid-19 must isolate themselves. Federal health officials announced on Monday that their new recommendation is to isolate for five days instead of ten.
The updated recommendation comes as the Omicron variant surges across the country, setting records for new infections per day.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said that the new guidelines “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”
The seven-day national average for new daily cases shot past 214,000 on Sunday– an 83% increase in two weeks.
President Joe Biden held a conference call with the country’s governors on Monday where he plainly stated that:
“There is no federal solution,” adding that “This gets solved at the state level.”
“Ultimately it gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help.”
New study suggests Omicron protects against Delta
A new study from South Africa has also indicated that Omicron may help protect against the Delta variant and may soon replace it completely.
The immunity created in the bodies of those who contract the Omicron strain of the virus confers more than four times the protection against the Delta variant than having no protection whatsoever.
The team who undertook the study stated that Omicron could displace Delta because of this ability.
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