The order for additional home tests represents a further shift in administration strategy shortly after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and others downplayed the need for such widespread home testing measures to fight against the transmission of the virus.
Biden said he understands the frustration and feelings of fatigue that have gripped many people as the pandemic enters its third year in the United States, but urged people to get vaccinated if they don’t. had not already done so.
“As long as we have tens of millions of people who are not vaccinated, we will have full hospitals and unnecessary deaths,” he said. “The most important thing in determining your outcome in this pandemic is to get yourself vaccinated. “
Earlier this week, the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury jointly issued guidelines requiring private health insurers to reimburse people for up to eight over-the-counter tests per month, starting from mid-January. The White House also rolled out an expansion of its efforts for Covid testing at school on Wednesday.
Senior health officials have also questioned whether to distribute high-quality masks to people across the country, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resisted calls to revise its guidelines to promote use. more effective N-95 or KN-95 style masks. . Biden himself has urged people to wear masks when surrounded by other people inside and appeared to co-sign the CDC’s current guidelines.
“I know we all wish we could finally end the wearing of masks,” he said. “I understand, but they are a really important tool in stopping the spread, especially the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.”
The CDC itself has come under increasing criticism for seemingly confusing messages in recent weeks, especially regarding recent changes to its advice regarding how long people infected with the virus should self-isolate before going to bed. reintegrate into society.