OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
Asked on Monday whether his administration has done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, Joe Biden acknowledged that it has not.
Biden noted in a meeting with the nation’s governors that COVID test lines are long around the country, saying the administration still has work to do.
That’s not enough. Clearly not enough,’ he said, adding that: We have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.
Biden told the conservative and Democratic governors at the joint meeting – that there was ‘no federal solution’ for Omicron, the virus that has caused cases to spike around the country, and that the solution must come from the ‘state level.’
However, he told governors: If you need something say something. We are going to have your back.
In October of 2020 Biden made this statement via Twitter:
I'm not going to shut down the country.
I'm not going to shut down the economy.
I'm going to shut down the virus.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 30, 2020
During the meeting with the governors, the president joined the COVID-19 Response Team for the first time.
Governors thanked Biden for his efforts after the meeting, Biden told reporters.
They didn’t tell me they’re worried but they thanked me for the cooperation they’re getting. They said they’ve gotten all that they need. They just want to know what we think is gonna happen from here. There were no complaints, a lot of cooperation.
Biden spoke with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he and Jill Biden were leaving for Rehoboth Beach, where they will spend a few days at his family beach house in Delaware before the New Year holiday.
Also, the president denied a report from Vanity Fair that his administration rejected a plan back in October that would have allowed for 732 million tests each month under the COVID program. In addition, the plan recommended a nationwide ‘Testing Surge to Prevent Holiday COVID Surge.’ ‘We didn’t reject it,’ the president said.
At the beginning of Biden’s meeting with the governors, he acknowledged a nationwide shortage of testing centers.
‘Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do’
The president stressed, however, that when he took office, ‘we had no – zero – over-the-counter home test in the United States. None.’
Now there are more than 20,000 places to get tested for free.
He said there would be more testing sites in the future.
I know the lines have gotten very long in some states. That’s why I ordered FEMA to set up pop-up sites in places with high demand to shorten the wait. We stood up 60 of sites in New York City in five days and there are more coming.’
Additionally, he said that his administration has worked with Google ‘so you can now search COVID test near me on Google to find a location.’
Biden joined the virtual meeting with governors to discuss how to combat the Omicron variant, as cases keep rising and the need for testing kits remains strong.
The administration of Biden is under fire for a shortage of COVID testing as Americans rush to get tested before the holidays.
Some retailers have limited the number of at-home testing kits that can be purchased at a time because of the high demand and empty shelves. In CVS stores as well as online, customers can purchase a maximum of six test kits per purchase while Walgreens limits it to four.
The lines at retailers that sell COVID kits and at sites offering free COVID testing have grown long.
There will be more tests available next month, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Sunday, Fauci told ABC’s This Week: We’ve obviously got to do better. ‘I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow.
According to Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Omicron outbreak may just be getting started, and Americans should expect the situation to deteriorate in the coming weeks.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s for sure. We don’t expect things are going to turn around in a few days to a week. It likely will take much longer than that. But that’s unpredictable.
For free distribution, the administration has ordered a half-billion testing kits. However, those kits will not be available until next year.
Many experts doubt that 500 million tests will be enough as more Americans return to normal life after taking the test.
In the United States, if 330 million people were tested twice a week, over 2.5 billion tests would be needed each month.
Biden has defended the work of the administration.
‘I don’t think it’s a failure,’ he told ABC News on Wednesday. ‘You could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago.’
Nevertheless, he conceded that he wished he had ‘thought about ordering’ the 500 million tests two months earlier.
As the country faces what is known as a ‘soft lockdown,’ COVID cases are increasing at a rapid rate, and events are getting canceled.
The country has seen a 68 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks, averaging 198,326 every day. Deaths and hospitalizations haven’t followed, however. There hasn’t been a greater seven-day case average in the U.S. since January 19, when the nation experienced its most devastating Covid outbreak to date.
Each day, there are 71,302 hospitalizations in the United States, an increase of only eight percent over the past two weeks.
During that period, the number of deaths rose by three percent to 1,328 per day. There is a possibility that the Omicron variant – which accounts for 73 percent of cases in the U.S. according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – is milder than others. Hospitalizations and deaths lag behind cases, but a similar spike could also occur there soon.
Approximately 1 million new cases a day could soon be seen in the United States, far above last winter’s peak of 248,000.
Research conducted by vaccine manufacturers and independent health experts shows that there is no adequate protection against infection from the variant vaccine regimens – two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Pfizer and Moderna booster shots can re-establish protection, however. According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans have received their full Covid vaccination, and 64.5 million have received their booster shot.
As a result of the Omicron cases, the fallout is growing.
Following hundreds of flight cancellations over the Christmas holiday, US airlines cancelled about 800 more flights on Monday.
In addition to the Military Bowl, the Sun Bowl and Fenway Bowl have also been canceled due to outbreaks among teams.