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President Biden announces new plans to fight COVID-19

International travelers must now test negative 24 hours before US-bound flight
President Joe Biden
Posted at 2:34 PM, Dec 02, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Joe Biden laid out a nine-prong campaign Thursday to combat COVID-19 and the new omicron variant as winter approaches.

RELATED: 5 things to know about omicron variant of COVID-19

In a briefing held at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, the president outlined the following strategy:

1. Boosters for all adults
2. Vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open
3. Expanding free at-home testing
4. Stronger public health protocols for international travel
5. Protections in workplaces to keep economy open
6. Rapid response teams to help battle rising cases
7. Supplying treatment pills to help prevent hospitalizations, death
8. Continued commitment to global vaccination efforts
9. Steps to prepare for all scenarios 

President Biden announces new plans to fight COVID-19

"[The plan] doesn't include shutdowns or lockdowns but widespread vaccinations and boosters and testing," Biden said.

Biden said the federal government is expanding the booster campaign across the country.

"Today, I'm announcing that we're going to launch hundreds of new family vaccination clinics across the country," Biden said. "These sites are going offer vaccinations for the whole family in one stop."

He said the new clinics will be available at community health centers and also be mobile.

Health experts encourage adults to get their booster if they received their second vaccine shot against COVID-19 six months ago, Doctors said the booster will increase the strength of a person's antibodies to fight the virus.

RELATED: Omicron could affect US 'maybe in a month,' Palm Beach County doctor says

Biden said they are launching a new public education campaign to encourage adults to get boosters, which includes a special focus on seniors.

The president said AARP will help provide rides through volunteers and partnerships with other organizations to help seniors get their booster shots.

All federal employees currently receive paid time off to get booster shots. Biden called on all employers to provide the same paid time off for their employees.

The president said the White House is working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for other vaccines or boosters.

Passengers get a COVID-19 test at a Testing Centre at Heathrow Airport in London, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021
Passengers get a COVID-19 test at a Testing Centre at Heathrow Airport in London, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.

The president said the U.S. is strengthening international travel rules to the U.S., including having everyone provide a negative COVID-19 test 24 hours before their departing flight. The rule was previously 72 hours.

There is still no testing requirement for domestic flights.

RELATED: Here's how Dr. Fauci says we can combat the omicron variant

In a move that Biden hopes will help Americans have easier access to COVID-19 tests, the president announced new steps to ensure everyone has access to free at-home testing.

Those with private insurance will now be able to get at-home tests reimbursed by their insurance. People who are not covered by private insurance will also now be able to get at-home tests at health centers and rural clinics, in addition to the 20,000 federally-supported free testing sites.

To help efforts to vaccinate more countries in need, Biden said the U.S. is accelerating the delivery of more vaccines overseas by pledging to deliver 200 million more doses in the next 100 days.

RELATED: Doctor believes new COVID variant already in Florida

Medical experts are still studying the omicron variant to find out if is more dangerous and if our vaccines are effective against the new strain.

"Next week we should start to know a little bit more, a lot more. We need about two weeks or so to get enough data," said Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi of St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

At a mobile vaccination site in Lantana on Thursday, Beverlyn Pierce was getting a booster shot.

"I heard about omicron. I got the booster just to be on the safe side," Pierce said.