Coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant news: Live updates

The Biden administration is opening additional federally run free Covid-19 testing sites in six states across the country as the Omicron variant continues to surge in the US.

 “We have the tools we need to manage the surge in Omicron cases,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters during Wednesday’s briefing, citing vaccinations and boosters, funding from the Covid relief package to help schools implement prevention measures, and federal support for treatment and prevention.

The Biden administration, Zients said, “is deploying every available measure to help states communities and hospitals confront this Omicron challenge. Military doctors, nurses and EMTs are now in place assisting local hospital staff and states across the country, with additional teams ready to deploy as needed.”

Zients said that additional new testing sites would be “opening soon” in Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Delaware, Texas and Washington state.

A White House official told CNN Wednesday that 13,546 National Guard personnel are currently deployed to support Covid-19 efforts, including approximately 700 medical personnel.

The administration has shipped 2.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment in the last two weeks, Zients added.

He also touted Covid treatments, including President Biden’s announcement that the federal government is working with Pfizer to accelerate delivery of its antiviral pill. 

“The coming weeks are going to be challenging,” Zients said, echoing comments from Biden on Tuesday that cases will continue to rise.

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