Biden to announce 500 million free at-home COVID-19 test kits and support for hospitals

The president is expected to announce several steps his administration is taking to counter rising case levels due to Omicron
Biden appoints Elizabeth Jones to oversee Afghan resettlement efforts

The Biden administration reportedly will distribute 500 million free at-home COVID-19 test kits to Americans and deploy members of the military to overburdened hospitals this winter.

The president will outline the plan when he addresses the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, according to multiple reports.

As schools begin to shift to remote learning, events are canceled, and public venues close their doors, Biden is expected to ask Americans to take the Omicron variant seriously, while not panicking, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Biden will reportedly tell vaccinated Americans who follow the extent of public health guidelines that they should feel comfortable spending the holidays with their families and loved ones. Unvaccinated Americans, however, will likely continue to hear warnings from the White House about increased risk of hospitalization and death this winter. 

Previewing the address, which was announced over the weekend, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, "This is not a speech about locking the country down."

Biden will announce that the administration is setting up new federal testing kit sites around the country. The first will open in New York City this week.

Additionally, the first delivery of the at-home COVID testing kits ordered by the government will arrive in January, and will be distributed to the public for free, through the mail, via a new website.

Furthermore, Biden will announce the deployment of federal emergency medical response teams to several states including Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as well as the mobilization of 1,000 military medical personnel who will be sent to hospitals in early 2022, if needed.

The federal government has also positioned strategic supplies of medical supplies like masks, gowns, and ventilators around the U.S. that can be swiftly delivered to states that need them, an official told the WSJ.

Members of the Biden administration have consistently warned Americans that, despite the wide availability of vaccines, the winter months present a challenge. Last Thursday, the president told the unvaccinated population that they are "looking at a winter of severe illness and death." 

Case numbers are surging among vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, though the administration has not yet discourage vaccinated individuals from ceasing to go about their daily activities, advising instead that all Americans take extra precautions heading into the holidays.