Biden announces new actions to expand, improve covid testing; New groups eligible for vaccines in DC

(Eagle News) — President Joe Biden’s administration continues to implement their plan for a national response to the Covd-19 pandemic. The White House announced a series of actions to expand Covid-19 testing, improve the availability of tests, and better prepare for the threat of covid variants.

In expanding Covid-19 testing, the federal government is now focusing on testing for schools and underserved populations. As part of this, the Department of Defense or DOD and the Department of Health and Human Services or HHS will invest $650 million. This money is for testing for K-8 schools and underserved congregate settings, such as homeless shelters.

HHS will also set up coordinating centers. These centers will help identify existing testing capacity, match it up to an area of need, and fund that testing.

When it comes to improving the availability of tests, HHS and DOD will invest $815 million. This is intended to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials .

Finally, the federal government will invest nearly $200 million in increasing virus genome sequencing. This will be used identify, track, and mitigate emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2 through genome sequencing. This money equals a threefold increase in the CDC’s sequencing. This increase will improve the ability to detect emerging variants.

These new steps will be implemented along with proven ways to protect the public against the virus. Namely wearing masks, social distancing and testing.

The announced investments are part of what the Biden Administration dubbed as the American Rescue Plan. The plan aims to use a nationwide approach to get the pandemic under control. The plan comes with $50 billion price tag on it.

In other Washington DC news, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health announced beginning today, February 18, here in the nation’s capital, people who work in four categories will be eligible to book vaccination appointments.

These four categories are: people who work in a grocery store setting, health and human services, manufacturing, and food packaging.

People eligible may book appointments through or by calling the District’s cornonavirus Call Center.

Vaccination appointments will become available on an alternating weekly schedule. So for one week appointments will be available at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. On the following week appointments will be available on Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m.

At this time, the portal is only open to people 18 years old and older.

(Eagle News Service)