February 29, 2024

Following President Biden’s State of the Union address, his administration has unveiled a new 96-page plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrast between last year’s joint session of Congress and this year’s highlights the progress made in containing the virus and how policymakers and officials are trying to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. The use of vaccinations, testing, and treatments like antiviral medications are allowing for large gatherings like the State of the Union without mandatory masks and distancing, as people who are unvaccinated or vulnerable can access treatments like the antiviral pill, Paxlovid. The 3 key components of the plan include “test to treat” programs for easy and rapid access to testing and medication, stockpiling of tests, pills, and masks for potential future surges, and setting up of early-warning systems such as wastewater virus detection while streamlining vaccine approval processes. The administration’s goal to not “accept ‘living with covid’ any more than we accept ‘living with’ cancer, Alzheimer’s, or AIDS” reflects the understanding that while necessary prevention and treatments are in place, life must also go on with adequate precautions and a preparedness for recoveries from future health threats. This new understanding of where the country stands in the pandemic and the path ahead allows for caution but also a return to normal living.

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