Joe Biden Directs U.S. To Procure 500 Million More COVID Tests

( The federal government will be procuring even more COVID-19 tests in order to try to meet the consumer demand as the Omicron variant continues to spike new coronavirus case and hospitalization numbers.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he would be directing the government to purchase 500 million more of the tests, which is on top of the 500 million tests the White House said before Christmas that it would be purchasing. Those tests will start being available to people this month.

Biden explained to reporters that these 500 million tests would be provided to Americans for free.

The president is attempting to catch up in an area where many have criticized his response to the pandemic. People believe that the Biden administration should have done much more early on to focus on testing so as to help people understand if they had COVID-19, and then quarantine if they tested positive.

The White House hasn’t shared specific details yet on how the tests can be ordered or requested by American families, but they intend to do so in the near future.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Defense has entered into contracts with two COVID-19 testing procurement companies — Goldbelt Security and Revival Health. They will be providing the tests that the federal government will make available to any American who wants them.

As the Omicron variant has become dominant in the U.S. — and has spiked new cases because it’s extremely infectious — Americans have been trying to buy at-home tests. But, many people have experienced problems finding the tests, due to companies not being able to keep up with the surging demand.

Compounding the problem is that it hasn’t been easy to get rapid tests at various facilities such as doctor’s offices, pharmacies and urgent care facilities, due in part to staffing shortages caused by the pandemic. Further, PCR testing isn’t as good as it used to be in terms of producing timely results because of similar staffing issues at laboratories.

Biden acknowledged that he understands how frustrating it has been to many Americans, but he said that availability of testing has improved in recent weeks. He said:

“This month, it’s estimated that we will hit approximately 15 million tests a day, and we’ll have over 375 million at-home rapid tests in January alone. That’s a huge leap.”

The president said his administration would launch a website sometime next week, which is where people will have the ability to order their free tests. They will be shipped directly to people’s homes.

In addition to the free COVID-19 testing, Biden announced that the federal government would soon also be providing free masks to all Americans who want them. He didn’t reveal any more details when he spoke this week, but said more information on that program would be available in the near future.

This is a good move by the Biden administration, but many people believe that it’s well, well overdue.