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Biden announces winter COVID-19 strategy

President Joe Biden discusses the latest COVID-19 variant at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci

Biden announces winter COVID-19 strategy

U.S. President Joe Biden announced a nine-part plan to combat COVID-19 during the winter on Thursday—the same day that health officials announced cases of the new omicron coronavirus variant had been detected in a total of five states. The plan will require private insurance companies to cover the cost of at-home, rapid coronavirus tests. The Department of Health and Human Services, AARP, and Medicare officials will work together to increase vaccinations, especially among children. The president is also deploying 60 winter emergency response teams to address coronavirus surges across the country. Biden extended the federal mask mandate for flights and public transportation to mid-March. 

What is the latest international response to omicron? In Germany, where more than 1 percent of the population is currently infected with the coronavirus, officials announced a lockdown for the country’s unvaccinated population on Thursday. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated for the coronavirus is banned from nonessential stores and public venues. The German parliament will also consider a general vaccine mandate. Greece will impose monthly fines for all citizens over 60 who refuse COVID-19 vaccination. The U.K. has restored a public mask mandate along with testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers. Health agencies say they need a few weeks to test the variant to determine the type of infection it causes and whether it is resistant to vaccines.

Dig deeper: Read medical correspondent Charles Horton’s article in WORLD Magazine on the effectiveness of masking in schools.

—WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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