President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday new actions in the fight against COVID-19, including mailing out millions of test kits, setting up federal test sites nationwide, expanding vaccine distribution and mobilizing U.S. troops to assist in hospitals.
Dubbed the President’s Winter Plan, the strategy includes the mobilization of an additional 1,000 troops to “COVID-burdened hospitals.”
“The President is directing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to ready an additional 1,000 service members—military doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel—to deploy to hospitals during January and February, as needed,” the White House said in a statement.
President Biden’s administration said the new actions are designed to “protect Americans and help communities and hospitals battle Omicron, building on the robust plan he announced earlier this month to get people maximum protection ahead of the winter and prepare for rising cases driven by the new variant.”
The administration added that the vaccines “are the most powerful tools we have,” adding that cases among vaccinated individuals “will likely increase due to the more transmissible Omicron.”
“In contrast, unvaccinated individuals are at high risk of getting COVID-19, getting severely ill, and even dying,” the statement continued. “Today’s actions will mitigate the impact unvaccinated individuals have on our health care system, while increasing access to free testing and getting more shots in arms to keep people safe and our schools and economy open.”
While Omicron is more transmissible than other variants, New York City’s chief medical official, Dr. Dave Chokshi, confirmed that the hospitalization rate for the new variant is a fraction of the rate of previous variants.
“Right now, there are about a thousand people hospitalized with COVID-19 across New York City. That’s about a quarter of where we were at the peak of last winter’s wave and less than a tenth of where we were in the spring of 2020,” Chokshi said on Monday, according to The Epoch Times.
Last week, President Biden issued a chilling message to Americans who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, warning that they are facing “a winter of severe illness and death.”
“I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken, omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would have otherwise done,” Biden said, as reported by Fox News.
“But it’s here now, and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase … We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated – for themselves, their families and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” he added. “But there’s good news: If you’re vaccinated, and you have your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death.”