Joe Biden is set to deliver a speech on Dec. 21 as the country battles the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. At what time is Biden’s speech today? Could the president announce new lockdown measures?
The omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa, is fast spreading, especially in Europe. The Netherlands has imposed strict lockdown measures. The U.K. is also contemplating lockdown measures, but British prime minister Boris Johnson seems wary of them ahead of Christmas.
Joe Biden is set to deliver his speech in the afternoon
Biden is scheduled to deliver his speech this afternoon. According to Factbase, there will be a press briefing by White House press secretary Jen Psaki at 1 p.m. ET, which will be followed by Biden’s address to the nation at 2:30 p.m.
The speech is widely awaited, as Biden is set to talk about the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The holiday season is expected to only accelerate the infection rate.
Will Biden announce lockdown measures?
Biden has previously ruled out lockdowns after the emergence of the omicron virus, and Psaki has said that Biden doesn't intend to announce new lockdown measures. “This is not a speech about locking the country down. This is a speech about the benefits of being vaccinated,” she said at a press briefing.
The rising number of omicron cases has complicated policymaking for both the Biden administration and the Fed. The Biden administration is working to lift stimulus measures and the moratorium on student loan repayments, and the Fed has sped up tapering. Its massive monthly bond-buying will end in Q1 2022. After that, the U.S. Central Bank intends to raise rates, with three rate hikes set for 2022.
However, if coronavirus infections rise steeply, further restrictions may be needed. Both the federal government and the Fed might have to go back to the drawing board for new measures to support the economy.
Boston imposed new lockdown measures
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, Boston mayor Michelle Wu announced new lockdown measures, “B Together.” They outline that COVID-19 vaccination proof will be needed to enter most indoor spaces.
Biden’s vaccine mandate is being challenged in Supreme Court
Biden has also been pushing for vaccine mandates for large employers. However, Republican-led states and several organizations have approached the Supreme Court to halt the mandate.
Biden to urge Americans to get vaccinated in his speech
During his speech, Biden is expected to urge unvaccinated people to get vaxxed. Despite the country having a large stock of vaccines, millions of Americans have decided to not get vaccinated.
The medical community is still studying vaccines' efficacy against the omicron variant. Initial reports suggest that both Moderna and Pfizer booster shots are effective.
Trump has received a COVID-19 booster
During his speech, Biden is also expected to call upon eligible people to get a booster. When Donald Trump revealed that he had received one, he was booed by his supporters. Many of them are against vaccinations despite research showing that they're quite effective in preventing severe infections and deaths caused by COVID-19. Biden might emphasize this data to convince more people to get vaxxed.