Chris Lange, FISM News
President Biden on Tuesday continued his vaccine-focused COVID-19 strategy, calling the virus a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” despite the fact that the highly-transmissible Omicron variant is spreading rapidly among the vaccinated population. The president urged “concern” but not “alarm,” but then added that “if you’re unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed.”
“There is no excuse — no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated,” Biden said during the afternoon press conference while acknowledging that there is “concern and some considerable confusion” about the soaring cases of COVID-19 across the nation.
“Omicron is a very transmissible, transmissible variant, but much different than anything we’ve seen before,” he said. “You can protect yourself, and you should protect yourself, quite frankly. Get vaccinated, get boosted. There are plenty of booster shots. Wear a mask while you’re in public.”
The briefing came one day after the U.S. experienced a global-record-breaking 1,080,211 new cases of the virus in a single day, despite the fact that nearly 74% of the nation’s population are at least partially vaccinated and 62% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID data tracker. The CDC in late December said that “anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”
Biden acknowledged that individuals who are fully vaccinated and boosted can still get the virus, but said it is “highly unlikely” that they will become “seriously ill.”
“Some will die, needlessly die,” he went on to say. “Unvaccinated are taking up hospital beds and crowding emergency rooms and intensive care units.”
The president admitted that the nationwide shortage of COVID-19 tests is “frustrating” but said his administration is “making improvements.”
“In the last two weeks, we’ve stood up federal testing sites all over the country, and we’re adding more each and every day,” Biden said. “Google ‘COVID test near me’ — go there. Google — excuse me — ‘COVID test near me’ on Google to find the nearest site where you can get a test most often and free.” He subsequently ignored questions from reporters about the status of his plan to mass-mail 500 million at-home rapid test kits.
The administration has come under attack for being woefully unprepared for the Omicron variant. “We didn’t see Omicron coming,” Vice President Kamala Harris said last month, a statement the White House’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted two days later, telling CNN, “We did. We definitely saw variants coming.”
Biden’s COVID-19 messaging, meanwhile, has shifted from his campaign trail promise to “beat” the virus, to acknowledging that there “is no federal solution” to the pandemic while issuing guidance on how to live with it.