To Fight Omicron, Biden Plans Aid From Military and 500 Million Tests

The White House is trying to avoid talk of lockdowns at all costs, and, to the consternation of some, has stopped short of urging people to cancel travel plans, avoid public transportation and the like.

“This is not a speech about locking the country down,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters earlier on Monday. “This is a speech outlining and being directly clear with the American people about the benefits of being vaccinated, the steps we’re going to take to increase access, increase testing, and the risks posed to unvaccinated individuals.”

But Mr. Biden will also acknowledge that the shape of the pandemic is shifting, the officials said. Breakthrough Omicron infections are common, though scientists believe that the vaccines will still provide protection against the worst outcomes. Many fully vaccinated and boosted people who are getting infected are experiencing mild symptoms or none at all.

Mr. Biden will say that if people are vaccinated and follow other public health guidelines, including wearing masks in public places, “they should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays” with their families, one of the officials said.

But beneath those notes of assurance from the president is deep concern among his advisers — and public health experts — about the ability of the nation’s hospitals, which are already under great strain, to withstand an Omicron surge. Even if the variant ends up causing less severe disease and a relatively low percentage of those infected need to be hospitalized, experts say, the explosion in cases means it is still possible that hospitals will become overwhelmed.

“That’s the big concern,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “If there are a lot of people getting sick, even if only a small portion of them are getting severely ill, that could still be a huge number of people.”

Mr. Biden intends to direct his defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, to “ready an additional 1,000 service members — military doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical personnel — to deploy to hospitals during January and February, as needed,” according to a fact sheet prepared by the White House.

White House Says It Does Not Keep Visitor Logs at Biden’s Delaware Home

WASHINGTON — White House officials said on Monday that there are no visitor logs that keep track of who comes and goes from President Biden’s personal residence in Wilmington, Del., where six classified documents were discovered in recent days. A top House Republican demanded on Sunday that the White House turn over visitor logs for […]

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A Florida School Received a Threat. Did a Red Flag Law Prevent a Shooting?

The requests were granted. But the results of the search were not what the detective expected. Memories of Parkland Nationally, more than 20,000 petitions for extreme risk protection orders were filed from 1999 to 2021, according to data collected by Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group. A vast majority of those petitions — more […]

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A Colossal Off-Year Election in Wisconsin

Lauren Justice for The New York Times Conservatives have controlled the court since 2008. Though the court upheld Wisconsin’s 2020 election results, last year it ruled drop boxes illegal, allowed a purge of the voter rolls to take place and installed redistricting maps drawn by Republican legislators despite the objections of Gov. Tony Evers, a […]

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