Biden imposes new measures after U.S. confirms case of Omicron
After the U.S. confirmed its first case of COVID-19's Omicron variant, President Joe Biden announced a list of restrictions to stop the spread.
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On Thursday, Dec. 3, President Joe Biden unveiled a new national strategy against the coronavirus and its Omicron variant, but it will not include more social restrictions, but calls for mass vaccinations and increased testing for COVID-19.
Biden's nine-point strategy includes a program to increase the number of booster doses, accelerate vaccination of minors, and implement greater restrictions for international travelers.
Measures for travelers
Beginning next week, travelers seeking to enter the country will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test performed 24 hours in advance — a change from the 72 hours previously required.
In addition, any foreign national traveling to the United States must be fully vaccinated, although there is no vaccination requirement for U.S. citizens traveling by air, either globally or domestically.
Mandatory use of face masks on planes, ships, trains, and public transportation will be extended until at least mid-March, with increased fines for those who do not abide by the rule. The minimum fine will be $500 and the maximum $3,000 for repeat offenders.
The U.S. government considers the availability of booster vaccines as the most effective tool to combat the severity of the coronavirus. Experts agree that booster vaccines offer better protection against the disease, including new variants.
"There is a national campaign to offer booster vaccines to the 100 million Americans who are eligible and have not received it," Jeff Zients, White House coordinator for the fight against the virus, told CBS.
The administration will also unveil measures aimed at increasing vaccination rates among children in an effort to keep schools open and protect children ages five and older from contracting COVID-19.
"To date, we have already vaccinated more than 4 million children ages 5 to 11 and 15 million adolescents. Vaccinating our children protects them, keeps schools open and protects everyone around them," the White House said in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Early Detection Tests
The White House will facilitate free in-home coronavirus testing to control the rise in cases during the pandemic, all without compromising the economy's recovery.
"We're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion," the president said.
The plan is to combine the resources of the 150 million privately insured with the distribution of tests in more than 20,000 locations throughout the country, including health centers and rural clinics.