White House focuses on testing capacity, vaccine availability, hospital support

Biden to deliver address on state of coronavirus pandemic

As the omicron variant continued to spread in the United Stats, President Joe Biden's administration continued to ask the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to receive the booster shot.

WASHINGTON – After meeting with the White House COVID-19 response team, President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver an address on Tuesday about the state of the pandemic.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary said the president’s speech ahead of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations will not be about locking the country down.

Psaki said it will be about “outlining and being direct — clear with the American people — about the benefits of being vaccinated.”

Epidemiologists expect unvaccinated Americans to drive hospitalizations and deaths. As the omicron variant spreads, the new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are up 96%.

President Joe Biden met with his COVID-19 response team on Monday at the White House and he is scheduled to deliver a public address on Tuesday.

Biden also tweeted his administration is working to increase testing capacity, vaccine availability, and hospital support.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor, said Americans need to use face masks indoors — especially at crowded airports.

“To be clear COVID--19 is not the same threat to fully vaccinated individuals that it was in March 2020,″ Psaki said.

Related story: Florida COVID surge: 18,000+ new cases from weekend as omicron spreads

More about omicron

Since it is more contagious than delta, epidemiologists expect omicron to become the dominant variant by early next year in the U.S. Researchers at the University of Miami Health lab said it already makes up for the majority of the cases in Miami-Dade County.

There is plenty of uncertainty since it is unclear if omicron causes a more severe disease than delta. Scientists do know unvaccinated Americans face a higher risk. Research shows the Moderna and Pfizer booster shot offers protection against omicron.

For more information about testing and vaccination locations in South Florida, visit this page.

Related story: While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in South Florida, ICU populations are not

About the Author:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News.