President Biden announced a new plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic heading into the winter, including stricter testing requirements for international travel.
“I’m announcing today that all inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality,” Biden said in a speech at the National Institutes of Health. “And we are extending the requirement, both internationally and domestically, to wear masks for travel on aircraft, trains, public transportation through the winter months.”
Biden said his administration will require insurers to cover the costs of at-home coronavirus tests, in order to expand their availability. Biden also reiterated that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control are recommending booster shots for Americans who already received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“More than about 100 million are eligible for boosters but haven’t gotten the booster shot yet. Folks, if you’re over the age of 18, and you got vaccinated before June 2, six months has gone by—go get your booster shot now,” Biden said.
The Biden administration will also encourage school districts to remain open for in-person learning throughout the winter, after many districts struggled to reopen during the 2020-2021 academic year. The administration is calling on states to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all school employees, and Biden has directed the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services to assist districts in testing students and staff for coronavirus.
The president’s announcement came following the discovery of the Omicron variant of coronavirus its detection in the U.S. Health officials are currently studying whether the variant could partially evade immunity provided by coronavirus vaccines, with NIH director Francis Collins telling Fox News Sunday it could “take two, three weeks in both laboratory and field studies” to know for certain.