The relevance of isolating the first omicron case in the US 2:44
President Joe Biden announced a series of new actions on Thursday aimed at fighting the covid-19 pandemic and protecting Americans from the newly discovered delta and omicron variants.
In a speech at the National Institutes of Health, Biden detailed the administration's nine-front plan, a day after officials confirmed the first recorded case of the omicron variant in the United States, in California.
"It is with the combined advice of all of you that we developed this plan, and it does not involve shutdowns or lockdowns, but rather widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and much more," Biden said.
Building on new travel restrictions in regions affected by the spread of the omicron variant earlier this week, Biden announced new steps that tighten the pre-departure covid-19 testing protocol for all incoming international travelers, who require a negative test within one day of departure to the United States.
At this time, any foreign national traveling to the US must be fully vaccinated, although there is no vaccination requirement for US citizens traveling by air, either globally or domestically.
The administration had earlier formally announced its plan to extend the mask-wearing requirement for domestic travel, originally scheduled to expire in January, until mid-March. The order, which had already been extended this summer, applies to travel by train and other public transportation, and comes amid widespread reports of unruly passengers refusing to comply with mask-wearing mandates.
Under the plan, the administration is increasing the reach of vaccines, including efforts, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, AARP, and Medicare, to ensure that approximately 100 million Americans are eligible for vaccine boosters against the covid-19 get injections as soon as possible, including launching a nationwide public education campaign, city councils, and transportation offers to receive vaccinations and booster appointments for the nation's "most affected and highest-risk older Americans" .