Biden announces purchase of 500 million more at-home COVID tests – NPR

President Biden speaks about the government’s COVID-19 response in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Thursday. Andrew Harnik/AP hide caption

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Andrew Harnik/AP

President Biden announced Thursday that the administration will buy another 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests for Americans in addition to his plans to order 500 million announced last month.

A website will launch next week so Americans can order the free tests, Biden said. It’s still not clear when they will be available.

Biden also said the White House will make high-quality masks available for free, with details coming out next week.

Speaking before receiving a briefing from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on their agencies’ efforts to assist health care providers, Biden again urged Americans to get vaccinated and get booster shots to prevent the further spread of the disease and to take the stress off hospitals and medical staff.

“If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it,” Biden implored. “Personal choice impacts us all.” He called COVID-19 “one of the most formidable enemies America has ever faced. We’ve got to work together, not against each other.”

Biden also said six new federal medical teams will be dispatched to aid overwhelmed hospitals in six states.

The medical teams are being sent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio; Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn; Rhode Island Hospital in Providence; Henry Ford Hospital just outside Detroit; University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque; and University Hospital in Newark, N.J.

Facing criticism over its response to the highly contagious omicron variant, the White House says that since Thanksgiving, over 800 military and other federal personnel have been deployed to 24 states and that 14,000 National Guard members have been activated in 49 states to help with everything from clinical care to administering vaccines. The deployments have been paid for by the federal government with funds from the American Rescue Plan.

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