As People Struggle to Find Covid Tests, Biden Pledges Support for Solutions ‘at a State Level’
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said on Monday in a conference call with U.S. state governors that the federal government would support state-led efforts to combat the current Covid surge, especially the spread of the omicron variant.
“There is no federal solution, this gets solved at a state level,” Biden said in response to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who expressed concern that federal plans to purchase and distribute 500,000 at-home Covid tests might interfere with state-led efforts to procure and distribute tests as well, including Arkansas’ test-to-stay pilot for students who have been exposed to someone who tested positive.
“Make sure that we do not let federal solutions stand in the way of state solutions,” said Hutchinson, who is also the chair of the National Governors Association.
“If you need something, say something,” Biden said. “And we're going to have your back in any way we can.”
During the call, Biden acknowledged the hours-long lines people endured as they sought Covid tests over the weekend of Dec. 25.
“Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we’re doing it,” he said, highlighting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s temporary testing sites.
The federal government is preparing to ship Covid tests to people’s homes and will allow people to submit them to their private insurance for reimbursement, but those programs will not kick in until January. Many people are struggling to find at-home test kits on drugstore shelves, or else can’t afford them. The most commonly-available at-home tests in the U.S. cost around $25 each, while they’re much cheaper — or even free — in parts of Europe. And clinics are struggling with the surge in demand, with some CityMD locations in New York City temporarily closing due to staffing issues over the holiday weekend.
“We need to be talking about hundreds of hundreds of testing sites that need to pop up,” Jessica Justman, an associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said in a previous interview with Bloomberg.
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