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Biden Details Federal ‘Strengthens’ Medical Teams, Free COVID Tests & N95 to Fight Omicron – NBC10 Philadelphia

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President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the government will double to 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests for free distribution to Americans, along with the most protective N95 masks. , as he highlighted his efforts to “boost” resources to help weather the country’s spike in coronavirus cases.

Biden also announced that starting next week, 1,000 military medics will begin deploying across the country to help ease overwhelmed medical facilities. lack of staff because of omicron variant is highly infectious.

Many facilities are struggling as their workers are quarantined at home due to the virus at the same time as the spike in nationwide COVID-19 cases. The new rollout will be based on other federal health workers who have been sent to states to help with severe shortages.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Biden acknowledged that, “I know we’re all disappointed as we head into this new year” as virus infections reach new heights. But he insists it remains “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people have tested positive for the virus, but Biden noted health figures show that people are less likely to get serious illness and die if they’ve been vaccinated. vaccines: “What happened after that couldn’t be more different”.

Biden’s comments come as his administration’s focus is shifting to easing disruptions caused by a spike in cases that also contributed to lack of groceries and cancel the flight, rather than stopping the transmission of the virus.

On Tuesday, Janet Woodcock, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, told Congress that the highly transmissible strain would infect “most people” and the focus should shift to ensure that critical services can continue uninterrupted.

“I think it’s hard to process what’s really happening right now, which is: Most people will get COVID, okay?” she speaks. “What we need to do is make sure hospitals can still function – transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens.”

Biden says he is directing his team to double its procurement of COVID-19 rapid tests to be delivered to Americans for free through an upcoming federal website, as he seeks to respond to criticism about short and verbose for tests. The initial order was for 500 million tests, and now the federal government will buy 1 billion home test kits. Biden said the site will launch next week.

Biden said initial batches of testing kits will be available starting next week, when the administration launches a new website where Americans can request free tests. The rest of the tests will be delivered in the coming months.

Biden also announced that for the first time his administration plans to make high-quality N95 masks, most effective at preventing transmission of the virus, available for free for the first time. He said his administration would announce details next week.

The federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, the White House said this week. And while research has shown these masks offer better protection, they’re often more uncomfortable, and health officials haven’t changed their guidelines to recommend against wearing them. with less protective fabric.

“The best mask is the one you’ll wear and can wear throughout the day,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden encouraged Americans to wear masks while indoors to slow the spread of the virus, even as he acknowledged they were a “pain in the neck.”

“I know we all wish we could have success with masks, I get it, but they’re a really important tool in helping to stop the spread, especially an omicron variant. highly contagious,” Biden said. “Then please, please put on the mask.”

In his speech on Thursday, Biden was joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who recently recovered from his own case of COVID-19, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. They heard about the work of more than 800 military personnel who have helped civilian hospitals since Thanksgiving and more than 14,000 National Guard member jobs supporting immunizations, testing, and patient care are covered by the federal government.

The White House said it spoke to federal employees already in Arizona, Michigan and New York to hear about their experiences.

The omicron waves of COVID-19 have not peaked yet. John Chandler reports on the latest New York and New Jersey data.

General Dan Hokanson, director of the National Guard, said that as of Thursday, there are currently 15,200 Guard members around the country supporting COVID-19 missions.

State Guard leaders from Ohio, New York and Colorado told reporters on Thursday that they only use vaccinated troops for missions that interact directly with the public, including including at testing and patient care points in hospitals.

The White House said teams will support Henry Ford Hospital just outside Detroit, University Hospital in Newark, University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Cleveland Clinic and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

The Defense Department’s deployment will join another team sent by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to Bob Riney, president of Healthcare Operations and chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health Systems. based in Detroit. He said the phases of the operation would come together “in a highly coordinated way.”

“They don’t overlap. They complement each other,” he told reporters on Thursday.

The first team of paramedics arrived on Sunday and went through an orientation session before helping patients on Monday. They are providing up to 24-bed care and supporting staff at Henry Ford Wyandotte with surgeries and inpatient care, Riney said.

The first phase runs until January 21, and the second team will arrive in 30 days. “We are looking at a total of 45 days of support and that has a much more meaningful impact,” he said.

“We welcome and appreciate any support we have,” said Riney.

A spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic said the hospital system is “receiving federal assistance from a team of about 20 military medical professionals.”

Spokesperson Andrea Pacetti said they will likely begin work next week at the Clinic’s main facility in Cleveland. “We are grateful for federal support as we continue to face a challenging COVID-19 surge,” said CEO and President, Dr Tom Mihaljevic in a statement on Thursday. at our Ohio hospitals. The addition of military medicine allows us to care for more patients in our community.”

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/coronavirus/biden-highlighting-federal-surge-response-help-weather-covid-spike/3106225/ Biden Details Federal ‘Strengthens’ Medical Teams, Free COVID Tests & N95 to Fight Omicron – NBC10 Philadelphia

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