Biden to issue ‘stark warning’ on vaccination amid COVID-19 surge

Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Jennifer Jacobs
Bloomberg News (TNS)
U.S. President Joe Biden, shown here participating virtually in the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit in October 2021, plans to give a warning about COVID-19 to Americans during a speech on Tuesday. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to warn the nation of the perils of remaining unvaccinated against the coronavirus in a planned speech Tuesday as the omicron variant takes hold in the U.S. and the nation experiences a surge in cases.

“We are prepared for the rising case levels, and @POTUS will detail how we will respond to this challenge,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter. “He will remind Americans that they can protect themselves from severe illness from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and getting their booster shot when they are eligible.”

Biden’s planned speech comes amid mounting COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., with outbreaks that have forced the cancellation of Broadway shows and football games. Nations worldwide are weighing new border controls and restrictions on indoor gatherings.

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Biden will announce new steps the administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance, while also issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated, according to a White House official.

Health experts have warned of a wave of new infections coinciding with the arrival of the omicron variant, holiday travel and colder weather. In the U.S., 800,939 people have died of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the 7-day average of new U.S. cases was 122,297 as of Friday, according to CDC data, up 1.5% from the previous week.

Biden’s speech is set to build on a strategy to combat the coronavirus he unveiled earlier this month that included new travel requirements, more accessible free home COVID-19 tests and encouraging booster shots. So far, the administration has steered clear of more strict measures, including requiring vaccination for domestic air travel and quarantine requirements.