On Thursday, President Joe Biden is expected to announce new coronavirus strategies and travel restrictions after the first case of the Omicron variant was found in the U.S. The person who tested positive was vaccinated but is only showing mild symptoms, according to officials.
As reported by The New York Times, Biden is expected to announce a plan that “includes hundreds of vaccination sites aimed at families, booster shots for all adults, insurance reimbursement for at-home coronavirus tests and fresh travel restrictions, including a requirement that international travelers must show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within a day before departing for the United States.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden is also planning to prolong the mask mandate for public transportation and airplanes through mid-March instead of the policy ending on January 18th as previously scheduled. “Fines will continue to be double their initial levels, with a minimum fine of $500 for noncompliance and up to $3,000 for repeat offenses,” The Journal added.
Biden is expected to discuss the new plan at the National Institutes of Health.
The Times spoke with senior administration personnel, who reportedly “said it was aimed at keeping the economy, workplaces and schools open.”
The plan will also include a broad campaign to influence Americans who can get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, but have not done so yet. The efforts will reportedly involve paid ads, and free transportation to vaccination centers put together by AARP.
Biden will also encourage employers to give paid time off to workers for them to get a booster shot.
The Journal added, “Asked Monday if he thought local and state officials should reinstate mask requirements that have been lifted, he said he encouraged all Americans to wear them when indoors in crowded settings but didn’t mention mandates.”
“If people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there’s no need for the lockdowns,” he said in response to a different question.
Latest polling from 538 shows Biden at a 51.8% disapproval rating, and a 42.4% approval rating.
Many areas of the country have largely moved on from the restrictions and requirements put in place during the pandemic before vaccinations were widely available.
As The Times noted, “Only six states now require people to wear masks in indoor public settings regardless of their vaccination status. Three more — California, New York and Connecticut — require masks indoors for people who are unvaccinated.”
On Wednesday, the first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was detected in the United States, but the person has only been showing mild symptoms.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters at the White House Wednesday that the Omicron variant has been found in a person in California. The person had recently returned from South Africa, according to the Associated Press.
“We knew it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” said Fauci.
“CA’s large-scale testing and early detection systems have found the Omicron COVID-19 variant in California. We should assume that it’s in other states as well,” Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom tweeted. “There’s no reason to panic — but we should remain vigilant. That means get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a mask indoors.”
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