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Biden Announces Action Plan To Battle Covid In Winter; No Lockdown

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President Joe Biden has announced a set of actions to protect Americans against the Delta and new Omicron variants of coronavirus as the country heads into the winter.

The plan includes a new nationwide booster campaign; launching hundreds of family clinics to make it easier for the whole family to get vaccinated together; and free at-home tests.

Announcing his Administration's plan at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, Thursday, Biden ruled out any shutdowns or lockdowns.

The President urged businesses to move forward expeditiously with requiring their workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly.

He called on employers to provide paid time off to their employees to get vaccinated. Currently, about one third of workers report not receiving paid time off for vaccinations, and thirty five percent of parents report being concerned about having to take time off work to get their child vaccinated.

Despite nearly 60 percent of Americans fully vaccinated, booster shots authorized for all adults, and a vaccine authorized for kids aged 5 and above, the pandemic still persists strongly in different parts of the country. Experts say that cases will continue to rise in the weeks ahead this winter.

The President pledged every resource to the FDA to support timely review of applications for vaccines for children under the age of 5.

Biden said he is committed to using every resource to quickly get updated vaccines and boosters in the unlikely event they are needed to battle the Omicron variant. The Administration is working closely with executives at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for other vaccinations or boosters if needed.

As per the new plan, more than 150 million Americans with private insurance will now be able to get at-home tests reimbursed by their insurance provider.

FEMA will launch Family Mobile Vaccination Clinics, deploying sites, staff, and support to states across the country that need help - beginning with its first deployments to Washington and New Mexico.

Pharmacies will expand availability of appointments and walk-ins.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will launch a new public education campaign to encourage adults to get boosters.

Medicare will send a notice to 63 million seniors encouraging them to get their booster shots.

The AARP will collaborate with the administration to help get seniors boosted. This will include town halls, rides to booster clinics, and education events, focusing on hardest-hit and highest-risk older Americans.

The President doubled the commitment to distribute 25 million free tests to community sites to 50 million tests and added rural clinics to the program.

He also announced that 60 surge response teams are ready to deploy to states that experience a surge in cases over the course of this winter.

Covid-19 prevention policies will be reviewed to avoid closures of entire classrooms or schools when there is a positive case. CDC will release findings on quarantine and testing policies in schools.

The Administration will issue a new "Safe School Checklist" to give schools a clear game plan for how to get as many of their staff and students vaccinated as possible.

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