- Biden on Thursday announced the US will purchase an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests to send to Americans for free.
- That brings the total number of free at-home rapid tests for Americans to 1 billion.
- The White House will roll out a website for Americans to order the tests to ship to their homes.
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that his administration will buy another 500 million at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to send to Americans for free.
"Today, I'm directing my team to procure an additional 500 million more tests to distribute for free," Biden said as he delivered an update on the White House's response to surging COVID-19 cases across the nation.
The new order brings the total number of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests that will be delivered for free to 1 billion. Biden last month initially announced that his administration will purchase 500 million rapid tests to send to Americans starting in January. That decision came amid a rise in demand for tests driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The White House expects to roll out a website this week for Americans to order the tests to ship to their homes, Biden said.
Still, the president reminded Americans that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is "the single most important thing to determine your outcome in this pandemic."
"Vaccines are safe, they're free, they're widely available," he said on Thursday, encouraging the unvaccinated to get their shots.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, warned on Wednesday that the Omicron variant's "unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility" will likely "find just about everybody."
But Fauci went on to distinguish the different risks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should they get Omicron, which currently makes up about 95% of new COVID-19 cases in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Those who have been vaccinated, and vaccinated and boosted, would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death," he said.
Those who are unvaccinated "are going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this," he added.
The US is reporting nearly 1 million new coronavirus infections a day, more than 150,000 current hospitalizations and 1,200 average daily deaths, Fauci said.
More than 208 million people in the US — or 62.7% of the population — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest data from the CDC.