December 2, 2021 – Private insurers will soon be required to reimburse people enrolled in their plans for the cost of home, rapid COVID-19 tests, and mask mandates will be extended for air, rail and bus travelers by at least mid-March.
The measures are part of a series of new actions that President Joe Biden is expected to announce later today in the wake of the advent of the Omicron variant in the US. The White House’s initiatives are designed to combat an expected winter surge of COVID-19 infections, according to sources familiar with the president’s plans.
At about $ 24 per package, rapid COVID-19 testing remains very prohibitively expensive, even after a promise to bring the tests to Americans at a wholesale cost.
Other countries have rapid tests available for free or about $ 1 per test, and many experts say that more frequent use of rapid tests can help stop the transmission of COVID-19 virus.
About 150 million Americans will be eligible for compensation for quick tests through their insurance plans.
In addition to these steps, international travelers flying to the US will soon be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their departure, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
In line with the six-part plan to fight COVID-19 set out by the administration in August, the president’s new plan is centered around vaccinations for all qualifying Americans, including booster doses for the estimated 100 million adults who are now at least 6 months past their second doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 months past a Johnson & Johnson shot.
Those plans, which were relied upon vaccine mandates for most workers, have been thwarted by recent court rulings blocking the implementation of those requirements.
As the issue permeates the courts, Biden is expected to appeal to companies to voluntarily implement vaccination requirements for their workers, which he says are helping to close vaccination gaps.
Biden is also expected to outline a new effort on Thursday to get reinforcement shots to all adults, with the emphasis on reaching seniors who are at greatest risk for hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.
The president is expected to speak at the National Institutes of Health at 1:40 p.m.