Joe Biden

Washington: The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. families as it divulges its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter.

The administration is making available four rapid virus tests per household through from Thursday after a three-month break. A significant increase in COVID-19 cases has been observed following the Thanksgiving holiday, and further increases are anticipated from indoor gatherings and travel during Christmas and New Year.

The administration is keeping personnel and equipment on standby in case they are needed to help overwhelmed hospitals and nursing homes, as was needed in previous waves of the virus. The White House said so far, no requests for assistance have been made, but surge teams, ventilators, and personal protective equipment are ready.

The Biden administration is also urging states and local governments to do more to encourage people to get the updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, which scientists say are more effective at protecting against serious illness and death from the currently circulating variants. The administration is reiterating best practices to nursing homes and long-term care facilities for virus prevention and treatment and is urging administrators as well as governments to encourage vulnerable populations to get the new shots.

The plan comes as the administration has struggled to persuade most Americans to get updated boosters as pandemic cases and deaths have declined and most people have returned to most of their pre-pandemic activities.

A White House official said the new tests would come from the national stockpile, which still has stockpiles after shutting down the at-home testing program in September. New tests will be procured to replace the tests distributed over the coming weeks under existing funding authorizations. The Biden administration is still seeking billions of dollars in additional funding from Congress for the virus response.

By Archana

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