BETHESDA (AP) — With rising numbers of COVID-19 cases predicted this winter, President Joe Biden on Thursday appealed for Americans to get their boosters and get behind his plan to tackle the new omicron variant through wider availability of vaccines and shots, but without new major restrictions on daily life.
Biden wants to require private insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests and he is tightening testing requirements for people entering the United States, regardless of their vaccination status.
While some other countries are closing their borders or reinstituting lockdowns, the president said he would not at this time impose additional clampdowns beyond his recommendation that Americans wear masks indoors in public settings.
“Experts say the COVID-19 cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead this winter, so we need to be ready,” Biden said during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in suburban Maryland after a briefing with scientific advisers.
He said his new strategy “doesn’t include shutdowns and lockdowns,” and he hoped for bipartisan backing.
“My plan I’m announcing today pulls no punches in the fight against COVID-19, and it’s a plan that I think should unite us,” he Biden said.
Legal challenges have held up Biden’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for workers at larger employers, and that’s led the president to urge businesses to impose their own mandates so companies can stay open without outbreaks.