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Biden Administration Has 9-Point Plan to Combat Omicron

The strategies address booster doses, travel, and rapid response.

As the US is going into winter and the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has arrived in the country, President Joe Biden announced the development of his administration’s 9-point plan this afternoon. The plan is aimed at adding protective steps against COVID-19.

Ahead of Biden’s press conference this afternoon, The White House published a release of the plan.

The plan includes the following strategies:

  • Boosters for All Adults
  • Vaccinations to Protect Our Kids and Keep Our Schools Open
  • Expanding Free At-Home Testing for Americans
  • Stronger Public Health Protocols for Safe International Travel
  • Protections in Workplaces to Keep Our Economy Open
  • Rapid Response Teams to Help Battle Rising Cases
  • Supplying Treatment Pills to Help Prevent Hospitalizations and Death
  • Continued Commitment to Global Vaccination Efforts
  • Steps to Ensure We Are Prepared for All Scenarios

“Today’s actions will ensure we are using these tools as effectively as possible to protect the American people against this variant and to continue to battle the Delta variant during the winter months when viruses tend to thrive. These actions will help keep our economy growing and keep Americans safe from severe COVID-19,” The White House said in the statement.

Primary Vaccination and Booster Doses

Within this plan, vaccinations continue to be the key strategy. The administration is looking at ways to encourage adults to get booster doses, opening family clinics to get children vaccinated and adults booster doses and the administration is continuing to call upon businesses to move forward with requiring employees to get vaccinated or get tested weekly.

Earlier this week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened their recommendation that all individuals 18 and older receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the recommendation, adults are eligible for a booster dose 6 months after their primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or 2 months after a single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.

This clarifies earlier Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC recommendations and opens the door to all adult Americans to get the booster doses.

For the family clinic initiative, these places will provide vaccines for the whole family including first doses for parents, teens, and kids, and boosters for those eligible. “This model builds on the Administration’s ongoing efforts – in coordination with states, localities, providers and community leaders – to meet people where they are and make vaccinations accessible and convenient in communities across the country,” the White House said in the statement.

Travel

Another area the plan incorporates is travel. The administration has restricted travel from African countries where the Omicron variant is spreading.

As of next week, the administration is tightening up pre-departure protocols for all inbound international travelers coming into the United States. They are requiring all inbound international travelers to test for COVID-19 within one day of departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. The White House statement said this "tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant."

They have also extended the mask requirement for travelers on planes, trains, and public transportation until March 18.

Rapid Response

In looking at this area, the administration is making 60 plus COVID-19 emergency response team deployments available. The teams include over 20 Department of Defense Medical Response Team deployments to support clinical staffing at strained hospitals; 10 National Disaster Medical System team deployments to provide clinical support at strained hospitals; over 20 monoclonal antibody strike team deployments to support the administration of these lifesaving treatments; and over 15 CDC expert deployments to conduct outbreak investigations and provide epidemiological or technical support whenever needed.

The administration is also providing $20 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to strengthen the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a network of medical and public health volunteers organized locally to improve the health of their communities. The funding will be used towards resources to help support the approximately 300,000 MRC who have volunteered towards local COVID-19 response.