Biden announces new COVID-19 initiative at State of the Union address

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President Biden on Tuesday announced a new COVID-19 initiative to return Americans to “more normal routines.” 

In his State of the Union address, the president explained that “Test to Treat” allows for Americans to get tested for coronavirus at a pharmacy and receive antiviral pills “on the spot at no cost” if they are positive. 

He also highlighted that vaccine-maker Pfizer Inc. is currently “working overtime” to get Americans a million pills in March and more than double that number in April. 

A White House official said the plan will roll out at hundreds of pharmacies nationwide, including CVS, Walgreens and Kroger locations.

His administration is also making more free rapid COVID-19 tests available to order at – even for those who already ordered some from the federal or U.S. Postal Service websites – beginning next week. 

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
(Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

The government has sent more than 270 million free tests to nearly 70 million households since mid-January, with nearly half of the 500 million still unclaimed. 

“Tonight, I can say we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” Biden said. “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

The White House is planning to release a new “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” on Wednesday that officials said would be a “roadmap” that will enable the country to “move forward safety.” 

According to The New York Times, the plan is expected to address developing new vaccines and therapeutics, how to keep businesses and schools open, and a host of other issues. 

In his speech, Biden also noted the U.S. must be prepared for new variants. 

Children under the age of 5 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated and the president said scientists are “working hard to get that done.” 

“We’re leaving no one behind or ignoring anyone’s needs as we move forward,” Biden noted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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