Biden’s New Covid Plan: Preparing for New Variants and Avoiding Shutdowns
Although Paxlovid tablets have been relatively scarce since they were authorized late last year, Mr. Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that “Pfizer is working overtime to give us a million tablets this month and more than double that.” than next month.
According to the New York Times database, the U.S. averages about 60,000 new cases per day. That’s a lot less than the daily average of 800,000 people in January, at the peak of the Omicron-driven winter surge. But that’s still much higher than the daily load last June before Delta made its summer surge.
Despite the White House saying things are getting better and new federal regulations suggesting 70 percent of Americans can opt-out of wearing masks, for now, large groups of people remain at risk. Children under five years of age are not yet eligible for vaccination. On Monday, New York State health officials released data showing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is far less effective at preventing infection in children ages 5 to 11 than it is in teenagers or adults.
An estimated seven million Americans have weak immune systems, diseases, or other disorders that make them more vulnerable to severe forms of Covid. Last week, the White House announced that it was taking several steps to make masks and tests more accessible to these groups.
But Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University, said that as sock requirements across the country are falling away, the administration — and in particular the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which eased their wearing recommendations last week masks have placed too much of a burden on vulnerable Americans to protect themselves.
One mask mandate that won’t be lifted – at least not for the next few weeks – is the one Mr. Biden has imposed on planes, trains, and other forms of transportation. Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said he would be in place until at least March 18, but C.DC. revises it.
In his address to Congress, Mr. Biden urged Congress to provide new funding for the administration to stockpile more tests, masks, and pills. And he said that Americans who ordered free home tests from the government website covidtests.gov I can order more next week.
“I can’t promise that a new option won’t come up,” Mr. Biden said. “But I can promise you that we will do everything in our power to be ready if this happens.”