CNN

Biden to give Omicron-focused speech on Tuesday

Dec 18, 2021, 4:06 PM
US President Joe Biden speaks during a holiday reception for the Democratic National Committee at H...
US President Joe Biden speaks during a holiday reception for the Democratic National Committee at Hotel Washington, in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2021. On Tuesday, President Biden will give an Omicron variant-focused speech, according to a White House official. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP) (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

 (CNN) — President Joe Biden will give an Omicron variant-focused speech on Tuesday as the nation contends with higher case numbers, deaths and hospitalizations from the coronavirus heading into the holidays.

“Building off his Winter Plan, @POTUS will announce new steps the Administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance, while also issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a series of tweets. “We are prepared for the rising case levels, and @POTUS will detail how we will respond to this challenge.”

NBC News first reported on the speech.

Psaki’s comments that the administration is “prepared for the rising case levels,” comes as Vice President Kamala Harris told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Friday that the administration was caught unprepared for the rise of Covid variants.

“We didn’t see Delta coming. I think most scientists did not — upon whose advice and direction we have relied — didn’t see Delta coming,” Harris told the Times in a year-end interview. “We didn’t see Omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”

News of Biden’s speech on the new variant comes after he delivered a “direct message” to the country on Thursday, warning that people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 are looking at a bleak and dangerous winter if they do not get their shots soon.

“I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would have otherwise done,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following his Covid-19 briefing Thursday.

Ahead of his Thursday remarks, Biden’s top health officials urged him to deliver that message in the clearest terms possible, according to people familiar with the session. Only by laying out the stark difference in outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated infections could the gravity of the moment come through.

Biden and his team — which included Dr. Anthony Fauci, two top vaccine experts from the National Institutes of Health, White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian — set to work writing out by hand the grave warning he would deliver later when cameras were ushered into the room.

The emergence of the Omicron variant has thrust the nation — and the White House — back into an uncertain pandemic reality, posing both public health and political challenges for a leader whose ultimate success depends almost entirely on his ability to contain the virus.

Already, cases and hospitalizations are surging in some parts of the country, leading to a 31% increase in cases and a 20% increase in hospitalizations from two weeks ago.

Yet Biden and his team have all but ruled out new lockdowns, and behind the scenes, administration officials have been debating how to shift public attention from the total number of cases — which appear likely to surge, even if many are mild — toward the number of severe infections that are overloading health systems and causing interruptions to normal life.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

Police in Highland Park, Illinois, respond to a shooting at a Fourth of July event....
Eric Levenson, Adrienne Broaddus, Shawn Nottingham and Brynn Gingras, CNN. Mark Jackson

Police have arrested a ‘person of interest’ after a mass shooting at July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois

Robert E. Crimo III, a person of interest in a mass shooting at a parade that left six dead and sent more than two dozen people to hospitals, has been taken into custody near Lake Forest, Illinois, authorities said during a brief news conference. Authorities said Crimo was spotted by a North Chicago officer who […]
1 day ago
People leave Field's shopping centre, after Danish police said they received reports of shooting, i...
Kim Norgaard, Pierre Meilhan and Jorge Engels, CNN

Several people killed in Copenhagen mall shooting, police say

shooting at a mall in Copenhagen has left several people dead, local police said Sunday.
2 days ago
Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, September 28, 20...
Jennifer Henderson, CNN

Florida judge allows lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents against Brian Laundrie’s parents to proceed

A lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito's parents will move forward, a Florida judge ruled Thursday. The lawsuit is against the parents of Brian Laundrie.
5 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
5 days ago
Justice Stephen Breyer and President Joe Biden....
Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Breyer makes it official: He’s leaving the Supreme Court on Thursday at noon

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Breyer said it had been his "great honor" to participate as a judge in the "effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law."
6 days ago
Image of the new summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles (Photo courtesy of French's)...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

The newest, weirdest summer treat is a ketchup-flavored popsicle

A Canadian ketchup brand has launched an unusual twist on a popular summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Biden to give Omicron-focused speech on Tuesday