President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. has reached a “new moment” in the COVID-19 pandemic, as the U.S. has the tools to protect people and the virus “no longer controls our lives.”
Mr. Biden, 78, received his second COVID-19 booster shot on camera Wednesday, one day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized a new round of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine doses for Americans over 50. The president, who received his initial booster in September, is one of the 34 million Americans now eligible to receive a second booster shot.
Mr. Biden got the shot after providing an update on the state of the pandemic and announcing the rollout of COVID.gov, a new website meant to help Americans access information on vaccines, treatments, and case levels in a given community. The president described the website as a “one-stop-shop” for Americans’ COVID-19 related needs.
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“Because of the strategy we executed over the past year on vaccinations, testing treatments and more, we’re now in a new moment in this pandemic,” the president said Wednesday. “It does not mean that COVID-19 is over. It means that COVID-19 no longer controls our lives, that’s what it means.”
The president also highlighted administration’s “test-to-treat” initiative that he announced in his State of the Union address, which has expanded to more than 2,000 sites nationwide. The program’s goal is to get Americans tested and, if they are positive and need treatment, help them get a prescription filled in the same location.
The president also urged Congress to pass new COVID-19 funding for vaccines and treatments. The administration has been warning lawmakers that the U.S. won’t have enough vaccines for a fourth shot for all Americans, or enough funding for antibody treatments. The administration has asked Congress for $30 billion. The president warned the U.S. won’t be able to sustain its testing capacity beyond June, leaving the country vulnerable to another wave of the virus.
“We’re already seeing the consequences of congressional inaction,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday. “The monoclonal antibodies — take monoclonal antibodies, for example. They’ve helped saved lives. This isn’t partisan — it’s medicine. But Congress hasn’t provided enough money to keep purchasing these monoclonal antibodies. We’ve had to cancel planned orders, and cut the supply we’re sending to the states. Without more funding, we’ll start to run out of them by the end of May.”
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 975,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and deaths have been on a downward trend of the last month. Nearly 70% of Americans 5 years and older are fully vaccinated, and 89% of Americans 65 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. But the majority of U.S. adults still haven’t received a booster shot.
Alex Tin contributed to this report.