WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is announcing plans to deliver 500 million free COVID-19 tests to Americans, increase support for hospitals and expand the availability of vaccines to confront a winter surge of coronavirus cases driven by the fast-spreading omicron variant.
Biden said in a speech to the nation Tuesday that it's Americans' "patriotic duty," as well as a wise medical step, to get vaccinated.
The world is facing a second straight holiday season with COVID-19.
Scientists know vaccination should offer strong protections against severe illness and death.
Biden's top medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the Democratic president will issue "a stark warning of what the winter will look like" for unvaccinated Americans.
Earlier Tuesday, the White House announced it would be sending federal medical personnel to Arizona to help fight the spread of the virus.
According to the announcement, six emergency response teams are immediately deploying to Arizona, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Vermont.