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White House launches COVID.gov amid push for more funds, booster shots

FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine booster, at the First African Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California
A health care administer gives the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to a person at the L.A. Care Health Plan free testing and vaccination site at the First African Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 29, 2022.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

The Biden administration on Wednesday launched a new website to provide a clearinghouse of information on COVID-19 as part of a continuing effort to prepare Americans to live with the coronavirus.

The launch of COVID.gov comes a day after U.S. health officials approves a second booster shot for Americans age 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised, two years after the start of the pandemic.

President Joe Biden, who turned 79 in November, will receive his fourth dose of a COVID vaccine later on Wednesday when he delivers an update on the nation’s fight against COVID-19 in remarks at the White House.

Biden, who is scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT), has so far received the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE vaccine, although a fourth dose of Moderna Inc’s shot also was approved on Tuesday.

Nearly 982,000 people in the United States have died from COVID since early 2020 over several waves of the disease, according to a Reuters analysis of local data.

Although vaccines and increasingly available therapies for COVID-19 have reduced severe illness and deaths, public health officials are monitoring BA.2, an Omicron subvariant that now accounts for more than half of all U.S. cases.

U.S. officials have said they do not expect another major surge, but noted that COVID cases could rise from BA.2 or a subsequent variant, reflecting the administration’s position that the country must learn to live with and adapt to some level of this coronavirus.

Biden has asked Congress for another tranche of funding to pay for current vaccinations and treatments as well as to shore up the nation’s preparedness for future outbreaks, but the money was left out of the most recent federal government funding bill.

Congressional Democrats have said they will take up COVID funding separately but have yet to do so. Biden in mid-March warned the U.S. government would run out of funding for supplies soon without more support.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and other senior Biden administration health officials are scheduled to update lawmakers at a U.S. House hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

Several members of the White House communications office, including Jen Psaki, recently tested positive for COVID.

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