Joe Biden addressed the omicron strain of the coronavirus in a speech to the nation this afternoon, in which he indicated the country as a whole was not going into a lockdown.
“We should all be concerned about omicron, but not panicked. If you’re not fully vaccinated you are right to be concerned,” he said. Biden said that almost every American who died in the past year of the coronavirus was unvaccinated.
Biden admitted the new omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeping through the country is very contagious and likely to cause many breakthrough infections among people who are vaccinated. But he noted that evidence shows that vaccinated people who get infected are much less likely to become severely ill or die.
Biden said fully vaccinated people can enjoy the holiday safely with with vaccinated family and friends. “I got my booster shot as soon as they were available, and just the other day, former President Trump announced that he had gotten his booster shot,” Biden said. In the last five months, the number of unvaccinated Americans eligible for vaccination dropped from 90 million to 40 million, Biden said.
Biden said America was not going back to March 2020, when much of the nation locked down at the beginning of the pandemic. That’s because 200 million Americans are vaccinated, the health care system is better prepared to treat people, and officials know how to protect K-12 students so that schools won’t close down, he said.
Biden said his administration is taking further steps to address the omicron wave. The federal government is setting up 10,000 new vaccination and 20,000 new free testing sites across the nation. In addition, the federal government is purchasing half a billion at-home COVID-19 tests that will be distributed to households for free starting in January. (Biden didn’t admit this, but this action is too little too late to help Americans cope with the omicron surge.) In addition, 1,000 military medical personnel will be deployed to hotspots where hospitals are in the process of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
An angry Biden exclaimed, “Look, the unvaccinated are responsible for their own choices, but those choices have been fueled by dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media.” He continued: “You know, these companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters.” That, Biden said, is “wrong, it’s immoral! I call on the purveyors of these lies and misinformation, stop it. Stop it now.”