The White House had to clean up a comment by Vice President Kamala Harris after she said in an interview the administration would start shipping out millions of free covid tests ‘next week.’
Harris made her comment in an interview with NBC, where she said the tests would start going out ‘shortly’ and said they have ‘been ordered.’
But she may have jumped the gun on the state of play. The White House soon said in a statement that ‘the President’s 500 million at home tests will be sent out later this month, and we expect all contracts to be awarded over the course of the next two weeks,’ CBS reported.
The Defense Department announced the first contracts as part of the plan just days ago, and the administration has yet to unveil its website that will allow Americans to request the tests – which come amid a surge in coronavirus infections amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was questioned on why the administration had not acted sooner to push out tests.
‘Because of the steps we’ve taken, we’re able to there’s 300 million tests that are happening in this country every single month and that is enormous progress. We’re not starting from zero. That is my point. So this is building on that,’ she said.
‘But in terms of the number of tests available in the market and the expansion of the market, remember a number of them were just approved at the end of October or beginning of November.’ She pointed to a recent poll and said: ‘It’s less than 10 per cent of the American public that can’t find a test.’
‘They’ve been ordered. They’ve been ordered,’ she said. Interviewer Craig Melvin pushed her for more information. ‘I have to look at the current information. I think it’s going to be by next week. But soon. Absolutely soon. And it is a matter of urgency for us,’ she said.
‘Should we have done that sooner?’ Melvin asked her. ‘We are doing it,’ Harris replied.
‘But should we have done it sooner,’ he pressed again. ‘We are doing it,’ Harris responded.
She was evidently citing a YouGov poll that showed 9 per cent of Americans overall reported having trouble finding a test – including 13 per cent in the Northeast.
But the poll also has some grim information.
It says one in eight who sought a test outside the home had to wait anhour or more. More than one in four of them tested positive for the virus. That was the same number the poll reported for those taking at-home tests. But only in about half of those cases did they report the result to a government agency – indicating government figures may be low-balling infection rates. Nearly half who got an at-home test said they had trouble acquiring it.
After Harris’ interview aired, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday the federal government would be doubling the amount of at-home COVID-19 test kits sent to American homes to a total number of one billion.
He also revealed the White House is unveiling a plan next week to get free and low-cost masks to people as the highly transmissible but less severe Omicron variant rips through the country.
Without making promises on precisely when the tests would go out, Biden said the White House is ‘on track to roll out a website next week where you can order free tests shipped to your home.’
And in addition to the 500 million — half a billion tests that are in the process of being acquired to ship to you home for free, today, I’m directing my team to procure an additional half a billion — additional 500 million more tests to distribute for free. I mean a billion tests in total to meet future demand,’ he said.
This is an excerpt from Daily Mail.
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