Dec. 18 (UPI) — As the Omicron variant brings on a new wave of COVID-19 cases, President Joe Biden on Tuesday will deliver a speech describing his administration’s response and will offer a “stark warning” for unvaccinated Americans.
White House press secretary Jenn Psaki on Saturday announced the speech on Twitter. She said Biden will announce new steps his administration is taking “to help communities in need of assistance.” The additional action builds on the Biden administration’s winter plan that includes increased testing and encouraging booster shots for adults, she said.
“We are prepared for the rising case levels,” she said.
The U.S. has seen a rise in cases since late November, according to The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker. As of Dec. 17, the daily case average was nearly 126,000, up from about 86,500 at the beginning of the month.
Top health officials in the Biden administration have discussed shifting the White House’s messaging to focus on severe instead of overall cases as the pandemic drags on, reports CNN.
“It’s not about cases. It’s about severity,” Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters this week.
White House aides told CNN that, unlike previous surges, more Americans are vaccinated and have stressed that getting the inoculation prevents severe cases. Officials aren’t considering lockdowns, but are instead looking at shoring up resources in areas with low vaccination rates.
In Europe, the Netherlands saw a lockdown order to stop the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a rare “major incident” in the city after the British Health Security Agency reported the highest COVID-19 numbers since the start of the pandemic.