President Joe Biden on Wednesday acknowledged his administration has struggled to meet demand for Covid-19 tests in an interview with ABC, saying, “Nothing’s been good enough.”
Some areas of the country experiencing large spikes in Covid-19 cases are seeing hours-long waits for tests and days-long waits for results from those tests. The spike in cases, driven largely by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, comes at the same time as many Americans are traveling for the holidays and looking to take tests to see family and friends safely.
“I don’t think it’s a failure. I think it’s — you could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago a month ago,” Biden said.
He touted the 500 million Covid-19 at-home tests that the federal government has ordered to send to any American who wants them — a program that will start in January — as a potential salve for the shortages, but said, “The answer is yeah, I wish I had thought about ordering half a million (tests) two months ago, before Covid hit here.”
The President confirmed that he and members of his family would test before celebrating Christmas together in person this weekend. The President is expected to stay at the White House for the holiday weekend and may travel to his home state of Delaware next week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Wednesday.
Biden acknowledged the administration is “chasing” the highly transmissible Omicron variant, telling ABC, “The fact of the matter is we’re chasing whatever comes on the scene that hadn’t been there before — and this wasn’t there this last summer, for example.”
“But what do you plan for? You plan for what you think is available that is the most likely threat that exists at the time, and you respond to it,” Biden said. “And I think that that’s exactly what we’ve done. And so for example, Omicron is spreading rapidly, but the death rates are much, much lower than they were. This is not March of 2020 — it’s a very different time that we’re in now.”
When asked if putting in a vaccine requirement for domestic air travel had been considered, Biden said he had thought about doing so but “the recommendation I’ve gotten is not necessary.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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