(TheRedWire.com) – President Joe Biden made it clear during his State of the Union Address, the scientific community is ready and able to battle new strains of COVID-19. Biden promised new vaccines could be ready in under 100 days, rather than “many more months or years” if a dangerous new variant arises.
The last variant, Omicron, became a thorn in the side of epidemiologists because it appeared far more contagious than earlier coronavirus strains. After a record spike in cases, the nation has experienced a drop in serious infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. According to Biden, most Americans will be able to leave their masks behind and return safely to school or work.
Biden also mentioned vaccine manufacturers and the FDA are working diligently to approve a vaccine for children under five. The drug was nearly approved, two doses for six-month to four-year-olds, until a data analysis cast doubts on its efficacy, warranting a third dose and further testing.
The Return to Normal Life
During his speech, President Biden pointed out 70% of American adults are now fully vaccinated, and hospitalizations are down by 77%. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance for masking that uses hospitalizations as a key indicator rather than the number of cases in an area. Under the old guidelines, 95% of US counties fell under a high-risk category during the Omicron outbreak, even as hospitalizations declined. Scientists credited the new strain’s less-dealy characteristics.
Under the new guidelines, around 30% of counties will still qualify as high-risk, with suggested – not mandated – mask-wearing in place. The federal masking rule for all buses, trains, and planes will expire on March 18, barring any changes.
More Than Vaccines
Biden says the country is ready to move forward but requests Americans practice due diligence if another deadlier strain comes along. He urged everyone to keep their masks handy, just in case, and continue safe practices such as hand-washing and sanitizing.
The administration will continue taking orders for free COVID tests, and popular pharmacies will continue to offer free testing and antivirals at no cost, emphasizing treatment and prevention.
With the second anniversary of the first shutdowns right around the corner, Biden made it clear in his speech he knows the American people are tired of the pandemic and ready to move on with their lives.
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