U.S. President Joe Biden warned there’s “going to be a continued rise in cases” and that the “coming weeks are going to be challenging” due to the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The comments came after the president met with his COVID response team Tuesday. Biden encouraged Americans to “take advantage of what we already have” and said, “There’s no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated.”
Biden also addressed the current shortage of tests that is frustrating many Americans.
“We’re making improvements,” he said.
The president did not take questions from reporters.
The United States is dealing with its worst yet surge in coronavirus cases, with over 1 million cases reported in 24 hours, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Biden urged schools to stay open, but the surge in cases has disrupted some school districts’ plans to reopen.
Schools in Los Angeles will not open again until January 11, and students are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result to be allowed on school grounds.
Negative tests are also required for students in Washington, D.C., where classes were set to resume Thursday.
The school systems in Chicago and Seattle are strongly recommending their students get tested before coming back, but they are not requiring students to do so.
The surge in infections has also left many schools without enough teachers and staff to hold in-person classes.
Similar problems are having an impact elsewhere, as well.
The Smithsonian Institution announced that several of its major museums in Washington will have to close or operate under reduced hours for at least 12 days as it experiences “unprecedented staff shortages.”
Since before Christmas, many airlines have had to cancel flights with a lack of crews healthy enough to work.
Last month, Biden laid out a new concerted effort to combat the surging omicron variant of the coronavirus, dispatching federal health care workers to short-handed hospitals, pre-positioning the national stockpile of medical equipment around the country and announcing a plan to offer 500 million free COVID-19 test kits to Americans.
It is unclear when the new tests will become available.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.