As Europe faced a new wave of the virus, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Scotland imposed further restrictions on the movement and activities of their citizens.
Omicron erupted at a precarious time for the president, who has vowed to curb the pandemic, to be faced with a form-changing virus that now kills more than 1,000 Americans every day. It is also a divisive political climate in which many Americans, especially supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, have refused to be vaccinated.
In his remarks, Biden acknowledged the former president, noting that Mr. Trump recently said he had received a recall and that “thanks to the previous administration and the scientific community, America is the one of the first countries to be vaccinated. “
But he also denounced the “dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media,” and the companies and personalities who “make money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own. supporters ”.
The president’s decisions are based on a winter pandemic strategy he announced three weeks ago and reflect an awareness inside the White House of the growing threat from the Omicron variant. But Mr Biden became defensive over questions of whether he hadn’t acted quickly enough, including making sure free tests were widely available.
“I don’t think anyone predicted it would spread so quickly,” Biden said, dismissing the characterization of his test response as a failure. He said that over the past few days, “all of a sudden it was like everyone was rushing to the counter.”
“It was a big, big rush,” he said.
Just two weeks ago, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, scoffed at the idea of sending every American a test.