President Joe Biden announced his plan to tackle COVID-19 this winter on Thursday. It’s a big decision, with 86,413 new cases of the coronavirus reported nationwide in the week to December 1. “My plan that I am announcing today does nothing in the fight against COVID-19,” President Biden said in a speech announcing the strategy. “A plan, I think, that should unite us.
The plan has several goals, such as increasing availability and launching education campaigns for vaccinations and boosters. Here are some of the most notable.
First, the Biden administration announced that people with private health insurance who buy rapid tests at home will soon be able to claim reimbursement from their health insurance. Specific guidance on exactly how to do this will be released by Jan. 15, according to the backgrounder. People without insurance will continue to be able to benefit from free tests at federally supported testing sites, and health centers and rural clinics will distribute home tests in their communities.
Rapid home tests currently cost between $ 24 and $ 36 for a two-pack. As SELF explained previously, rapid home antigen testing is more reliable when a person has visible symptoms. Rapid antigen tests are generally less sensitive than PCR tests, which can detect very small amounts of virus (although there is still a margin of error). But rapid home tests have the advantage of speed – results can come back as quickly as 15 minutes, where PCR tests require a lab and can take a few hours to days to get a result.
The next point in President Biden’s COVID-19 winter plan worth noting: All inbound travelers flying to the United States will be required to take a negative COVID-19 test within one day of their flight, regardless of their vaccination status or their citizenship. People who have recently recovered from COVID-19 (and may still test positive even if they are no longer symptomatic or contagious) will need to provide other documents, such as a positive test that is no more than 90 days before the departure of your flight and a letter from your doctor stating that you have been authorized to travel. It also extended mask requirements for public transportation, including planes, trains and buses, until March 18. The minimum fine for not wearing your mask in these areas is $ 500.
Unsurprisingly, vaccinations continue to be very important in curbing the impact of the virus, especially this winter. The Biden administration plans to launch awareness and awareness campaigns, with a focus on the elderly. While 86.6% of people over 65 are fully vaccinated, only 47.7% have received their booster, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention. Emphasis is also placed on having unvaccinated people vaccinated, especially children aged 5 to 11.
The president also announced ‘strike’ teams to help overwhelmed states manage cases during COVID-19 outbreaks and pledged to fairly distribute anti-COVID pills if and when they get clearance from the FDA.
All of these things will be needed as we face a new variant and rising rates of coronavirus. “Experts say COVID-19 cases will continue to increase in the coming weeks and this winter,” President Biden said. “So we have to be ready. «