The White House unveils its plan to take America to a new stage in the Covid pandemic

The National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan, which will require additional funding from Congress, focuses on spending on Covid-19 treatments, preparing new variants, keeping schools and businesses open and continuing efforts to vaccinate the nation and the world.

“Vaccines, treatments, tests, masks – these tools allow us to continue to protect people and allow us to move forward safely and resume our more normal routines. Going out to eat, taking that long-delayed trip, organize a play date for your children, go to a sports game again, or a movie or a concert, ”White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during an interview. a briefing at the White House.

A major new part of the plan includes a new “Test to Treat” initiative that President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He said Americans could get tested for Covid-19 at a pharmacy and receive free antiviral pills “on the spot” if they test positive.

Zients said hundreds of these “One-Stop Test to Treat” locations will open across the country this month. These sites will be in pharmacy-based clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country.

Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalizations and serious illnesses and was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration last year. Upon clearance, Biden announced a 10 million course purchase. The president has since said the federal government will double its order from 10 million to 20 million treatments.

Zients said Americans who have already received free at-home Covid-19 tests they ordered through COVIDtests.gov will be able to place a second order starting next week. He said the administration will continue to make hundreds of millions of high-quality masks available to Americans at pharmacies, grocery stores and community health centers across the country.

The administration will launch a website later this month, Zients said, to help Americans locate vaccines and masks in convenient places.

“This plan lays out the roadmap to help us fight Covid-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when Covid-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we let’s prevent, protect and treat,” a summary of the plan shared with CNN reads.

“We envision a future where Americans no longer fear shutdowns, shutdowns, and our children are out of school. This is a future where the country relies on the powerful layers of protection we have built and invests in the next generation of tools to stay ahead of this virus.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters that the administration has distributed more than 270 million N95 masks to local pharmacies and community health centers and that 70 million households have received Covid tests. -19 fast at home.

He said a key part of the plan is to support Americans struggling with the long-term impacts of Covid, including long-lasting Covid and mental health issues. The president said on Tuesday he was directing the federal government to accelerate its efforts to detect, prevent and treat long Covid.

The plan includes an effort to vaccinate children under age 5 if the US Food and Drug Administration grants approval and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for this group. The authorization of vaccines for young children has been delayed as the FDA seeks additional data.

Efforts to prepare for new variants include improving data collection capabilities and supporting accelerated review of variant-specific vaccines and treatments. This also includes adding home tests, antiviral pills and masks to the strategic national stockpile.

Keeping schools and businesses open is a key part of the administration’s plan to prevent the virus from disrupting normal life. The plan includes working with Congress to secure funding for additional testing and supplies to stay open, including tools to improve ventilation and air filtration. The White House will also work to get Congress to approve granting sick leave to workers who miss work because of Covid-19 or because they are caring for a loved one with COVID-19. virus.

Last week, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that most people in the United States live in areas where those who are healthy do not need to wear masks indoors. . This was a radical departure from what previous Covid-19 measures recommended.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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