The White House's plan to combat winter COVID-19 surges: 8 things to know

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In response to the emergence of the omicron variant, the White House has unveiled a new strategy that aims to further combat the virus by encouraging booster shots and helping to respond quickly to winter surges.

The strategy, which President Joe Biden is set to announce Dec. 2, also aims to keep schools and businesses open, according to a White House news release. The actions aim to protect Americans against the omicron and delta variants during the winter months.  

Eight things to know:

1. Boosters for all adults

Although more than 41 million Americans have received a booster shot, nearly 100 million eligible Americans have not. The White House is expanding pharmacy availability through December; reaching out to all eligible customers to get their booster, with a particular focus on older adults; and calling on employers to provide paid time off for employees to get boosted.

2. Vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open  

The Biden administration is launching hundreds of family vaccination clinics to get whole households inoculated in one location. The administration is also requiring Medicaid to pay healthcare providers to talk to families about getting their kids vaccinated.

3. Expanding free at-home testing for Americans

Plans include having at-home tests reimbursed by private healthcare insurers and distributing 25 million at-home tests to community and rural clinics for Americans who aren't covered by private insurers.

4. Stronger public health protocols for safe international travel

The White House is strengthening global pre-departure testing protocols while also extending  mask requirements for airplanes, rail travel and public transportation.  

5. Protections in workplaces  

The administration will encourage businesses to move forward with COVID-19 vaccination or testing programs.

6. Rapid response teams to help battle rising cases

The White House will have more than 60 winter COVID-19 emergency response team deployments available to states. The government will also strengthen the national volunteer emergency medical response corps.

7. Supplying treatment pills 

The Biden administration said it will work to ensure that if and when any new COVID-19 treatment pills meet the FDA's standards, they will be accessible to all Americans. 

8. Continued commitment to global vaccination efforts 

Efforts include donating 1.2 billion vaccine doses worldwide and accelerating the delivery of more vaccines to countries in need. 

 

 

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