President Joe Biden said Monday that while the administration has made efforts regarding making tests available to Americans, it’s “clearly not enough.”
“We went from no over-the-counter tests in January to 36 million in October, 100 million in November and almost 200 million in December,” the president, while speaking with governors regarding the Omicron variant, said. “But it’s not enough. It’s clearly not enough.”
“If I had – we had known, we would have gone harder, quicker if we could have,” the president added before going on to tout his administration’s latest efforts.
Biden’s admission coincides with both a rise in Omicron cases and a struggle to find testing across the county. In states like New York, for example, there have been hours-long lines for COVID testing ahead of the holiday season. Retailers country-wide, meanwhile, have struggled keeping tests in stock, according to The New York Times.
Biden announced Dec. 21 his administration’s plan to purchase 500 million at-home rapid COVID-19 tests that will be available free for Americans who go online and order one. The announcement followed reports of testing shortages and while it is intended to make testing more available, the plan won’t take effect until after the holidays.
Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci also lamented about the administration’s response to testing Monday morning. He told CNN that the administration “should have had more tests available,” though he also pointed to a perfect storm type-situation that ultimately caused more Americans to need COVID tests. (RELATED: ‘A Matter Of When, Not If’: Fauci Says Definition Of Fully Vaccinated Will Change)
“We had a conflation of high demands. High demands because of the concern about Omicron, which is a justifiable concern, but the high demand that was triggered by the holiday season, people getting ready to travel, getting ready to go and mix with family members and friends – it’s been a very, very strong run on testing, and you know, obviously not making any excuses for it,” Fauci said. “We should have had more tests available, but hopefully now as we get into the first couple weeks in January, that’ll get much better.”