The moves come as cases, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen markedly since winter’s surge of the omicron variant.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Illinois has closed testing sites and Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Ohio have stopped releasing daily COVID-19 data.
The publication said even campaigns to vaccinate residents – including incentives – have been scaled back, although only less than one-third of Americans have gotten a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Data the Washington Post shared last week showed that the Wednesday seven-day average of vaccinations had fallen to lower levels than at any time since the first days of the program.
Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass.
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows 217.6 million Americans are fully vaccinated and 97.5 million people have received a booster.
On Tuesday, federal regulators announced that people ages 50 and older could get a second booster.
That announcement comes as the White House has warned there is no funding for fourth shots and called on congress” target=”_blank”>Congress< administration and state and local leaders have taken steps to loosen restrictions – like mask mandates and vaccination requirements – health experts say a return to “normal” can only happen with access to critical tools.
The president said Wednesday that while the pandemic is not over, it “no longer controls our lives” at this “new moment.”
Notably, the highly transmissible BA.2 omicron sub-variant has been spreading nationwide, now accounting for more than half of all cases.
Biden said that “thanks to the foundation we’ve laid, America has the tools to protect people” even as “cases are ticking up.”
To that end, the president announced the launch of website COVID.gov, a “one-stop shop where anyone in America can find what they need to navigate the virus: free vaccines and boosters, free at-home tests, high-quality masks.”
“For the latest information about the level of COVID-19 spread in your community, you can get that immediately,” he said, including the locations of test-to-treat sites.
That initiative was first announced in Biden’s State of the Union address.
The president acknowledged that while great progress has been made in the fight against COVID-19, “we’re already seeing the consequences of congressional inaction.”
He explained that there is not enough funding for monoclonal antibodies, preventative therapies for people who are immunocompromised, testing and “we’re also running a risk” with vaccines.
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“Congress, we need to secure additional supply now. Now. We can’t wait until we find ourselves in the midst of another surge to act. It’ll be too late,” Biden warned.
“The consequences of inaction are severe,” he noted. “They’ll only grow with time, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”