That will come with additional funding for testing. The White House has secured help from retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell at-home testing kits at cost, starting immediately. It will provide free rapid home tests for food banks and community health centers to provide to their clients, and “expand the number of retail pharmacy sites around the country where anyone can get tested for free through the HHS free testing program to 10,000 pharmacies.”
The administration is calling on large entertainment venues and arenas to require vaccinations or proof of a negative test for entry, though the government can’t require it. It is continuing the mask requirement for interstate travel and is doubling the fines for non-compliance and will continue masking requirements on federal property. It is not going to impose a vaccine requirement for interstate travel. That’s a glaring exception, but there might be logistical problems in trying to make that one happen.
Booster shots for those already vaccinated in the general population will ramp up the week of Sept. 20—some populations such as immune-compromised people are already eligible, and those shots will be free and available pretty much everywhere they have been all along. They will make locating those sites as easy as possible: “individuals will be able to find a vaccination site at Vaccines.gov, including what vaccines are available at each site and, for many sites, what appointments are open. A toll-free number, 1-800-232-0233, will also be available in over 150 languages. Americans who have already utilized the text code 438829 or WhatsApp to get vaccine information will automatically receive a text with information on boosters, if and when recommended.”
The administration is also beefing up the federal surge response program to provide personnel to states with overwhelmed medical facilities. They’ve already deployed about 1,00 EMTs, nurses, and doctors to 18 states since July, and “surged hundreds of ventilators, ambulances and other critical assets to support strained health care systems.” The Department of Defense is going to “double the number of DOD teams of clinicians deployed to support hospitals battling a surge in COVID-19 cases. These clinicians will be available for mission assignment through FEMA’s response across surge states.”
“The United States government shipped an average of approximately 100,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies per week across July and August,” the White House says, and “will increase the average weekly pace of shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatment to states by a further 50% in September, continuing to accelerate the federal government’s efforts to deliver lifesaving COVID-19 treatment. The surge response effort “will launch monoclonal antibody strike teams to deploy clinical personnel through HHS, FEMA, and DOD to help hospitals and health systems stand up the delivery of this key treatment option.”