President Biden Lays Out New COVID Roadmap

The Biden administration is creating tighter testing requirements for all international travelers and extending some mask mandates.

President Biden Lays Out New COVID Roadmap
Evan Vucci / AP

President Biden on Thursday rolled out new steps his administration is taking to combat COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant.  

"We're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion," President Biden said.

The announcement includes tighter testing requirements for all international travelers, including U.S. citizens and the vaccinated, and it extends the mask mandate for air, train and public transport through mid-March. It also requires private health insurance companies to reimburse the cost of rapid at-home COVID tests.

"Bottom line, this winter you’ll be able to test for free in the comfort of your own home and have some peace of mind," President Biden said.

Thursday's address follows the administration's push to get booster shots to the nearly 100 million eligible Americans yet to get them. The president also called on employers to provide paid time off to allow employees to get boosters, and announced a new education campaign focused on seniors.

"I don't want you to have to choose between getting a paycheck and getting extra protection from a booster shot," President Biden said.

The new travel rule will go into effect early next week.

It comes as the U.S. is bracing for the new Omicron variant — the second case identified in Minnesota on Thursday. 

Medical experts fear cold weather, holiday travel and gatherings could lead to a surge in COVID cases during the winter months.