President Biden’s Omicron Response and Why it is Receiving Backlash

Image Credits: Eric Haynes, NRDC; Courtesy of Creative Commons

Recently President Joe Biden came out with his plan to address concerns about the spread of the most recent COVID-19 variant in the U.S.: Omicron. This left many people angered as some feel as if he’s treating the topic too lightly due to the faster transmission of the variant. Others think he’s addressing it properly as the pandemic has been going on two years and getting everyday life back in order is a priority. The president has also received plenty of backlash around the vaccines as many think they are not doing the job they were promised to do.

Does President Biden plan on another lockdown?

No, as of right now the White House is adamant about keeping things open and there is no need for a lockdown at this current time according to Biden.

How will people get their free rapid COVID tests?

The Biden administration says they will buy 500 million rapid tests to deliver free of cost. The plan is people can request free tests via a website where they can have tests shipped straight to their door. White House officials have stated their plan isn’t fully developed, so whether this is set in stone yet is unknown. They have also not stated if there will be a limit of how many tests a person can get, or exactly how they will be delivered, including which postal service will deliver them.

Will 500 million tests be enough?

Experts have predicted that there will be roughly 250 million at-home tests available at some point in the month of January. It is still unknown whether the new supply of 500 million tests will be available right away, or if the administration plans on distributing 500 million tests a month.

How will the White House scale up supply?

A major concern of many Americans is that with all the supply chain issues and many everyday items being unavailable or back-ordered, the tests may not be manufactured in time. However, administration officials say the president will continue to invoke the Defense Production Act. This is a law from the Korean War era that gives the president broad powers, mainly through an executive order that directs private companies to prioritize orders from the federal government over all others. The administration has been utilizing the law to scale up test production and used it again in the past few weeks to ensure that two different test manufacturers have the raw materials they need for production.

Where will the military be deployed and how?

President Biden will instruct his defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, to ready 1,000 military doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health professionals to assist overburdened hospitals. There are no plans in place yet to send troops to specific locations, but officials say they will be ready as needed.

Where will the new testing sites be and how many are they planning to open?

The exact number of new testing sites is still unknown. However, in the past few weeks, the administration has opened many sites in New York City.

Where will the new vaccination spots be open and when?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is setting up many pop-up vaccination clinics in numerous places around the country. According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, this includes a new mobile unit in Washington state and four new mobile units in New Mexico.

Currently, in the U.S., COVID numbers are at an alarmingly high rate with numbers comparing to the start of the pandemic, before vaccines were available. Just on Monday, January, 3 the United States reported nearly one million new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily tally of any country in the world. The number of hospitalized patients with the virus has risen nearly 50%, now exceeding 100,000. Nationally there is a daily average of around 500,000 new cases a day.

Specifically in Onondaga County, this past week there has been a surge in cases as there has been nationally with around 1,000 new cases reported daily. The new Omicron variant is less deadly but transmitted faster and easier. There are many walk-in testing and vaccination centers to help counteract the spread including a vaccination center at the fairgrounds and free testing at Syracuse University. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer the best protection against Omicron. Risk of hospitalization is further reduced with a booster shot.

Sophia Caputo, '24
Sophia Caputo is a junior at J-D high school and the Editor-in-Chief. In her free time she enjoys baking and cooking vegan treats, taking her dog Cora on new adventures, and of course writing.