President Joe Biden deflected blame for the COVID-19 rapid test shortage amid a surge of cases from the Omicron variant, arguing the new strain was too unexpected to prepare for.
Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday, unveiling how his administration planned to deal with the more contagious Omicron variant. When a reporter asked if the shortage of tests represented a failure for the White House, Biden responded it was not.
“COVID is spreading so rapidly you notice it just happened almost overnight,” Biden said. “The alarm bell went off. I don’t think anybody anticipated that this was going to be as rapidly spreading as it did.”
Biden announced that Americans will be able to request at-home rapid tests through a website starting in January and have them delivered for free, though the time those tests will arrive after the order is made is unclear. He also said 1,000 military members will be deployed to help out facilities that care for COVID-19 patients.
The president assured Americans concerned over Omicron disrupting holiday celebrations and travel that vaccinated individuals, particularly those who have gotten their booster shot, “should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as you planned it.”
“You know you’ve done the right thing. You can enjoy the holiday season,” he added.
Entertainment venues and sporting events have already started to close amid the surging cases, though deaths are not rising at the same rate, as scientists believe the variant may cause milder symptoms.
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