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Biden seeks to expand COVID testing as demand surges

US President Joe Biden listens as Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) speaks during a video call with the White House Covid-19 Response team and the National Governors Association in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on December 27, 2021 in Washington, DC.Anna Moneymaker/Getty

President Joe Biden acknowledged that Covid-19 test availability hasn’t kept up with heavy demand, saying his administration is seeking to expand pop-up sites and the availability of at-home test kits.

“Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do and we’re doing it,” Biden said Monday from the White House in a conference call with governors.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already set up some temporary testing sites, including in New York City, and that more are coming. He said there aren’t enough at-home tests and that his administration will continue to use the wartime Defense Production Act to produce “as many tests as possible.”

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“We have to do more,” Biden said. “We have to do better. And we will.”

Americans have overwhelmed testing sites as they prepare for trips during the holiday season amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Infections have surged in the U.S., with the 7-day average of new virus cases moving above the peak seen in the delta variant-fueled wave during the summer. More than 185,000 new infections were reported on Sunday, though reporting was depressed by the Christmas holiday.

The omicron variant accounted for roughly three quarters of new cases as of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and its prevalence is expected to increase.