Biden admits White House has 'clearly' not done enough on COVID testing

President Joe Biden on Monday admitted that his administration has not done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, vowing to do better.

In a meeting with 25 of the nation’s governors, Biden acknowledged the long lines around the country as people sought to get a COVID test ahead of the holidays, saying ‘clearly’ his administration has more work to do.

‘That’s not enough. Clearly not enough,’ Biden said, adding: ‘We have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.’

Biden told the governors – a mix of Republicans and Democrats – that there was ‘no federal solution’ to the Omicron variant causing cases to spike around the country, saying the solution was solidly on ‘state level.’ 

But his message to governors was: ‘If you need something say something. We are going to have your back.’

The president joined his COVID-19 Response Team’s meeting with the governors, the first time he has done so. 

After the meeting, Biden told reporters the governors had thanked him for his work.

‘They didn’t tell me they’re worried but they thanked me for the cooperation they’re getting. They said they’ve gotten all that they need. They just want to know what we think is gonna happen from here,’ he said, adding ‘there were no complaints, a lot of cooperation.’

He spoke with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he and Jill Biden  departed for Rehoboth Beach, where the first couple will spend a few days at his family beach home in Delaware ahead of the New Year holiday.  

The president also denied a report in Vanity Fair that his administration, back in October, rejected a plan for more at-home COVID tests that called for an estimated 732 million tests per month. The plan also recommended a nationwide ‘Testing Surge to Prevent Holiday COVID Surge.’ 

‘We didn’t reject it,’ Biden said.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden depart the White House to spend a few days at their beach home in Rehoboth, Delaware

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden depart the White House to spend a few days at their beach home in Rehoboth, Delaware

President Biden walked over to talk to reporters while Jill Biden headed to Marine One

President Biden walked over to talk to reporters while Jill Biden headed to Marine One

President Joe Biden admitted that his administration has not done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, vowing to do better

President Joe Biden admitted that his administration has not done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, vowing to do better

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, arrive for a video call with President Biden and governors

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, arrive for a video call with President Biden and governors

President Biden claimed the governors had no complaints during his meeting with them

President Biden claimed the governors had no complaints during his meeting with them

In his meeting with the governors, Biden acknowledged the testing shortage around the country in his opening remarks. 

‘Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do,’ he said.

But he argued, when he took office in January ‘we had no – zero – over-the-counter home test in the United States. None.’

‘Now there are more than 20,000 places to get tested for free,’ he said.

He said more testing sites were coming. 

‘I know the lines have gotten very long in some states. That’s why I ordered FEMA to set up pop up sites in places with high demand to shorten the wait. We stood up 60 of sites in New York City in five days and there are more coming,’ he told the governors.

He also said his administration worked with Google s’so you can now search COVID test near me on google to find a location.’

Biden joined the virtual meeting with the governors to discuss their needs to combat the Omicron variant as cases continue to rise and testing kits remain in demand.  

Biden’s meeting comes as his administration faces criticism for a shortage of COVID tests as Americans rushed to get tested ahead of the holiday season. 

With demand high and shelves emptying out of stock, some retailers have placed limits on how many at-home testing kits can be purchased at a time.  CVS has a limit of six test kits per purchase both in stores and online while Walgreens limits it to four kits.

President Biden's meeting comes before he departs for Rehoboth Beach, where he will spend a few days at his family beach home in Delaware

President Biden’s meeting comes before he departs for Rehoboth Beach, where he will spend a few days at his family beach home in Delaware 

Long lines have formed at retailers that sell kits and at sites that offer free COVID testing.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he expects more tests to be available next month. 

‘We’ve obviously got to do better,’ Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. ‘I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow.’

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, also told ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) that the Omicron surge may only be beginning, and that Americans should expect the situation to exacerbate over the coming weeks.

‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s for sure,’ he said. 

‘We don’t expect things are going to turn around in a few days to a week. It likely will take much longer than that. But that’s unpredictable.’

The administration has ordered a half billion testing kits for free distribution but those won’t be avaible until the new year. 

Some experts question whether the 500 million tests will be enough as more Americans use it as a way to return to normal life.

The numbers add up quickly: if 330 million Americans were tested twice a week,  more than 2.5 billion tests would be needed each month. 

Biden has defended his administration’s work.

‘I don’t think it’s a failure,’ the president told ABC’s David Muir on Wednesday. ‘You could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago.’ 

But he also conceded wished he’d ‘thought about ordering’ the 500 million tests two months ago. 

Meanwhile, COVID cases are rising at rapid levels and events are beginning to get canceled as the country faces what is being called a ‘soft lockdown.’ 

America is currently averaging 198,326 cases every day, an 68 percent increase over the past two weeks. Deaths and hospitalizations have not followed, though. The U.S. has not recorded a higher seven day case average since January 19, the backside of the nation’s most devastating Covid surge to date. 

The country is averaging 71,302 hospitalizations every day, only an eight percent increase over two weeks. Deaths are up three percent during that time span to 1,328 per day. This could be a signal of the Omicron variant – which accounts for 73 percent of cases in the U.S. according to most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – being more mild than other strains. Deaths and hospitalizations do lag behind cases, though, and a similar spike could be seen in those metrics soon as well, though.

President Biden said his administration will do more to ease COVID testing lines

President Biden said his administration will do more to ease COVID testing lines

A shortage of COVID tests has led to long lines around the nation

A shortage of COVID tests has led to long lines around the nation

US health officials warn that the country could soon see more than 1 million new cases per day, far beyond last winter’s peak of 248,000. 

Research performed by vaccine manufacturers and independent health experts have repeatedly found that the initial vaccine regimens – two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – are not effective at preventing infection from the variant.

Additional booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs can re-establish protection, though. According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid, and 64.5 million people have received their booster shot.  

The fallout from the Omicron cases continues.  

US airlines canceled about 800 more flights on Monday after thousands were canceled over the Christmas holiday as Omicron forces airline crews to isolate. 

The Military Bowl, Sun Bowl and Fenway Bowl are the latest college football bowl games to be canceled because of outbreaks on teams. 

source: dailymail.co.uk