Joe Biden said Tuesday that some progress has been made toward getting testing kits available for all Americans as he hunkers down in his Rehoboth Beach vacation home amid a massive case surge as the highly-contagious Omicron variant takes hold of the nation.

The president told reporters as he walked his new German Shepherd puppy Commander Tuesday evening with first lady Jill Biden that ‘a bit of progress’ toward the administration’s goal of producing and distributing at-home COVID testing kits amid nationwide shortages.

The administration has pledged that all Americans will be able to acquire an at-home rapid test for coronavirus after previously ruling it out.

Biden insisted to reporters that he was on the phone for most of Tuesday working despite a blank public schedule and spending the days following the Christmas holiday away from Washington, D.C.

He is also facing criticism for his response to the most contagious variant yet of COVID.

Biden and Jill on Tuesday evening took Commander on a walk along the beach and through the neighborhood near their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach.

Commander, the president said, is a 15-week-old rescue given as a present from his brother for his 79th birthday last month. The new addition to the first family comes after Biden’s dog Champ, who was also a German Shepherd, died in June 2021. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Tuesday evening took their new German Shepherd puppy Commander on a neighborhood walk near their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Tuesday evening took their new German Shepherd puppy Commander on a neighborhood walk near their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Tuesday evening took their new German Shepherd puppy Commander on a neighborhood walk near their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

The president told reporters that he was on calls all day and made 'a bit of progress' on the administration's plan to get Americans at-home rapid coroanvirus testing kits

The president told reporters that he was on calls all day and made 'a bit of progress' on the administration's plan to get Americans at-home rapid coroanvirus testing kits

The president told reporters that he was on calls all day and made ‘a bit of progress’ on the administration’s plan to get Americans at-home rapid coroanvirus testing kits

After a walk through the neighborhood, Biden and Jill took Commander onto the beach  to play in the sand

After a walk through the neighborhood, Biden and Jill took Commander onto the beach  to play in the sand

After a walk through the neighborhood, Biden and Jill took Commander onto the beach  to play in the sand

Biden told reporters that the 15-week-old puppy is a rescue that was gifted to him by his brother last month for his 79th birthday

Biden told reporters that the 15-week-old puppy is a rescue that was gifted to him by his brother last month for his 79th birthday

Biden told reporters that the 15-week-old puppy is a rescue that was gifted to him by his brother last month for his 79th birthday

The president plays fetch with the newest addition to the first family during some off-leash beach time December 28

The president plays fetch with the newest addition to the first family during some off-leash beach time December 28

The president plays fetch with the newest addition to the first family during some off-leash beach time December 28 

Some press gathered around for the walk were able to prompt Biden to answer some questions before the president let Commander off his leash to run around near the water.

Biden told reporters that he has not spoken recently with centrist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin after he sank the president’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better agenda earlier this month.  

Cases are surging and Republicans claim ‘there is no federal solution’ to the pandemic.

Biden told reporters on the beach Tuesday that he will make a decision on domestic vaccine requirements ‘when I get a recommendation from the medical team.’

Although Biden’s Tuesday schedule was blank, his public events do not usually contain any private meetings or phone calls the president may hold during the day.

The White House called a ‘lid’ at 10:13 am. A ‘lid’ means there will be no more public events with the president for the day. The ‘lid’ can be lifted – and was at 4:19 p.m.

Joe and Jill are spending several days at their Rehoboth Beach vacation home in the days after Christmas

Joe and Jill are spending several days at their Rehoboth Beach vacation home in the days after Christmas

Joe and Jill are spending several days at their Rehoboth Beach vacation home in the days after Christmas

Biden took commander off the leash to let him run around by the water Tuesday evening

Biden took commander off the leash to let him run around by the water Tuesday evening

Biden took commander off the leash to let him run around by the water Tuesday evening

The couple played with their new puppy as the sun set in Delaware

The couple played with their new puppy as the sun set in Delaware

The couple played with their new puppy as the sun set in Delaware

Biden, Jill and Commander arrived in Rehoboth on Monday afternoon.

The first couple will spend several days at their 4,786-square-foot beach-side home with six bedrooms and five baths.

Their break from Washington D.C. comes as COVID cases in the U.S. have doubled over the past two weeks and the Omicron variant takes hold of the nation.

On average, 235,269 Americans are testing positive for the virus every day – a 99 percent increase over the last two weeks.

Republicans wasted no time following the massive surge slamming Biden for saying there is ‘no federal solution’ to combating COVID-19 on Monday despite his administration’s far-reaching efforts to stop the pandemic, including federal mask and vaccine mandates. 

Biden's comments Tuesday come amid an explosion of COVID cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks as the newly discovered Omicron strain takes hold in the country

Biden's comments Tuesday come amid an explosion of COVID cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks as the newly discovered Omicron strain takes hold in the country

Biden’s comments Tuesday come amid an explosion of COVID cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks as the newly discovered Omicron strain takes hold in the country

Biden arrived in Rehoboth Beach on Monday afternoon with first lady Jill Biden and Commander

Biden arrived in Rehoboth Beach on Monday afternoon with first lady Jill Biden and Commander

Biden arrived in Rehoboth Beach on Monday afternoon with first lady Jill Biden and Commander 

The trio will spend several days at the family's Rehoboth, Delaware beach house

The trio will spend several days at the family's Rehoboth, Delaware beach house

The trio will spend several days at the family’s Rehoboth, Delaware beach house 

Biden has no public events on his schedule for Tuesday as he holes up in his beach house

Biden has no public events on his schedule for Tuesday as he holes up in his beach house

Biden has no public events on his schedule for Tuesday as he holes up in his beach house 

The GOP, citing a comment Biden made in October 2020, released a tweet implying the president did an about-face on his commitment to battling the pandemic, which has come back with a vengeance with the highest amount of cases in a day since January –  before vaccines were created. 

‘BIDEN, TODAY: ‘There is no federal solution’ to COVID,” the Republican National Committee tweeted, and included footage of the president from Monday’s meeting with 25 governors. 

‘BIDEN, 2020: ‘I’m going to shut down the virus.” 

Biden was meeting Monday with 25 of the nation’s governors – a mix of Republicans and Democrats – where he addressed the ongoing pandemic. 

After his speech, Biden asked White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients to open to the floor to questions from the governors.

However, before taking any questions, Zients quickly booted the press from the room, saying: ‘I think we’re going to clear the press first.’ 

It’s the latest instance of White House staffers appearing to shield the gaffe-prone president from the press. Last week, Biden cut short questions after a speech, saying: ‘I’m not supposed to be having this press conference.’ 

The Republican party blasted President Joe Biden on Twitter Monday after he said 'there is no federal solution' to combatting COVID-19

The Republican party blasted President Joe Biden on Twitter Monday after he said 'there is no federal solution' to combatting COVID-19

The Republican party blasted President Joe Biden on Twitter Monday after he said ‘there is no federal solution’ to combatting COVID-19

The GOP's post was referencing a comment Biden made in October 2020 where he promised to 'shut down the virus'

The GOP's post was referencing a comment Biden made in October 2020 where he promised to 'shut down the virus'

The GOP’s post was referencing a comment Biden made in October 2020 where he promised to ‘shut down the virus’

During the speech, he told the governors that there was ‘no federal solution’ to the Omicron variant causing cases to spike around the country, saying the solution was solidly on the ‘state level.’ 

His message to governors was: ‘If you need something, say something. We are going to have your back.’  

The president’s comments came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cut in half isolation restrictions for Americans who catch COVID from 10 days to five. The CDC also shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. 

The restriction change comes as several industries face staff shortages caused by the federal mandates and the administration’s failure to provide adequate testing. 

Biden’s supporters quickly rushed to his defense, alleging Republicans took his remarks out of context.

‘This deceptively-edited clip put out by the RNC and several GOP Members of Congress of Biden [sic] today creates the false impression that Biden is giving up on battling COVID,’ defense attorney Ron Filipkowski said. ‘This is a total lie’.

Filipkowski claimed the now-viral clip of Biden was ‘a total lie’ and edited to suggest he is ‘quitting on dealing with COVID and just throwing it to the states.’   

Echoing the RNC’s sentiment, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blasted Biden’s handling of the pandemic.

‘Biden says there’s no federal solution to COVID and that this gets solved at a state level. He should immediately end his unconstitutional federal mandates,’ Abbott argued. ‘The Texas solution is no mandates and personal responsibility.’ 

Abbott did not join Biden’s meeting with the nation’s governors on Monday. All governors were invited to attend the virtual gathering.  

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, also accused the president of implementing illegal mandates and blamed his ‘incompetence’ for the surging virus. 

‘When Joe Biden says ‘there is no federal solution,’ he’s trying to avoid blame for his incompetence,’ Cotton tweeted.

‘If he really believes this, he should rescind his unconstitutional federal mandates.’

Biden's remark came during a meeting with 25 of the nation's governors - a mix of Republicans and Democrats - where he addressed the ongoing pandemic. He told the governors that there was 'no federal solution' to the Omicron variant causing cases to spike around the country, saying the solution was solidly on 'state level'

Biden's remark came during a meeting with 25 of the nation's governors - a mix of Republicans and Democrats - where he addressed the ongoing pandemic. He told the governors that there was 'no federal solution' to the Omicron variant causing cases to spike around the country, saying the solution was solidly on 'state level'

Biden’s remark came during a meeting with 25 of the nation’s governors – a mix of Republicans and Democrats – where he addressed the ongoing pandemic. He told the governors that there was ‘no federal solution’ to the Omicron variant causing cases to spike around the country, saying the solution was solidly on ‘state level’

Cotton then argued that although there is ‘no federal solution,’ there are steps the president could take to combat COVID. 

‘Biden opened the border, botched testing, and outsourced CDC’s guidance to the teachers’ unions,’ he stated. 

‘There’s no federal solution, but the fed government can help by securing the border, approving safe treatments & tests, and appointing competent leaders at the FDA & CDC.’ 

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn – the youngest member of Congress – also chimed in on Biden’s handling of the virus.

‘Joe Biden blames the unvaccinated for COVID more than he blames China,’ said Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina.

Congressional candidate Buzz Patterson, also from North Carolina, offered his two sense on the situation: ‘Biden surrendered on the border, surrendered to the Squad, surrendered to the Taliban, and just surrendered to COVID.’

‘Don’t worry, he’s safely ensconced in his beach home. Sleep well.’ 

Rep. Tom Cotton (pictured) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were among those who blasted Biden over his handling of the pandemic

Rep. Tom Cotton (pictured) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were among those who blasted Biden over his handling of the pandemic

Both Cotton and Abbott (pictured) accused him of implementing COVID 'illegal mand

Both Cotton and Abbott (pictured) accused him of implementing COVID 'illegal mand

Rep. Tom Cotton (left) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (right) were among those who blasted Biden over his handling of the pandemic. Both Republicans accused him of implementing COVID ‘illegal mandates’

Several conservatives took to Twitter, issuing their detest for Biden's handling of the pandemic

Several conservatives took to Twitter, issuing their detest for Biden's handling of the pandemic

Several conservatives took to Twitter, issuing their detest for Biden’s handling of the pandemic

During Monday’s meeting, Biden admitted that his administration has not done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, vowing to do better. 

He acknowledged the long lines around the country as people sought to get a COVID test ahead of the holidays, saying ‘clearly’ his administration has more work to do.

‘That’s not enough. Clearly not enough,’ Biden said, adding: ‘We have to do more. We have to do better. And we will.’ 

The president joined his COVID-19 Response Team’s meeting with the governors for the first time Monday. After the meeting, Biden told reporters the governors had thanked him for his work.

‘They didn’t tell me they’re worried but they thanked me for the cooperation they’re getting. They said they’ve gotten all that they need. They just want to know what we think is gonna happen from here,’ he said, adding ‘there were no complaints, a lot of cooperation.’

He spoke with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he and Jill Biden  departed for Rehoboth Beach, where the first couple will spend a few days at his family home in Delaware for New Year’s.  

The president also denied a report in Vanity Fair that his administration, back in October, rejected a plan for more at-home COVID tests that called for an estimated 732 million tests per month. The plan also recommended a nationwide ‘Testing Surge to Prevent Holiday COVID Surge.’ 

‘We didn’t reject it,’ Biden said.

Biden joined the virtual meeting with the governors to discuss their needs to combat the Omicron variant as cases continue to rise and testing kits remain in demand. He acknowledged the testing shortage around the country in his opening remarks. 

‘Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do,’ he said.

During the meeting, Biden also admitted that his administration has not done enough to ease the COVID testing demand, vowing to do better

He acknowledged the long lines around the country (a seen above in New York City on Dec. 27) as people sought to get a COVID test ahead of the holidays, saying 'clearly' his administration has more work to do

He acknowledged the long lines around the country (a seen above in New York City on Dec. 27) as people sought to get a COVID test ahead of the holidays, saying 'clearly' his administration has more work to do

He acknowledged the long lines around the country (a seen above in New York City on Dec. 27) as people sought to get a COVID test ahead of the holidays, saying ‘clearly’ his administration has more work to do

President Biden said his administration will do more to ease COVID testing lines and that more testing centers were coming

President Biden said his administration will do more to ease COVID testing lines and that more testing centers were coming

President Biden said his administration will do more to ease COVID testing lines and that more testing centers were coming

Biden argued, when he took office in January ‘we had no – zero – over-the-counter home test in the United States. None.’

‘Now there are more than 20,000 places to get tested for free,’ he said.

He said more testing sites were coming. 

‘I know the lines have gotten very long in some states. That’s why I ordered FEMA to set up pop up sites in places with high demand to shorten the wait. We stood up 60 of sites in New York City in five days and there are more coming,’ he told the governors.

He also said his administration worked with Google ‘so you can now search COVID test near me on google to find a location.’

Biden’s meeting comes as his administration faces criticism for a shortage of COVID tests as Americans rushed to get tested ahead of the holiday season. 

With demand high and shelves emptying out of stock, some retailers have placed limits on how many at-home testing kits can be purchased at a time.  CVS has a limit of six test kits per purchase both in stores and online while Walgreens limits it to four kits. 

‘You know, testing has always been an issue … that has been problematic. It has been compounded by the situation of the high demands,’ Biden’s COVID tsar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN.

‘We had a conflation of high demands — high demands because of the concern about Omicron which is a justifiable concern, but the high demand that was triggered by the holiday season, people getting ready to travel getting ready to go and mix with family members and friends. It’s been a very, very strong run on testing.’

The Biden administration has announced plans to help quell this demand, distributing 500,000 at-home COVID tests to Americans in January.

Fauci also stated he expects more tests to be available next month. 

‘We’ve obviously got to do better,’ Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. ‘I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow.’ 

America is currently averaging 198,326 cases every day, an 68 percent increase over the past two weeks

America is currently averaging 198,326 cases every day, an 68 percent increase over the past two weeks

 America is currently averaging 198,326 cases every day, an 68 percent increase over the past two weeks

Both hospitalizations and deaths have remained steady in recent weeks, not rising at the same pace as cases

Both hospitalizations and deaths have remained steady in recent weeks, not rising at the same pace as cases

Both hospitalizations and deaths have remained steady in recent weeks, not rising at the same pace as cases

COVID cases in the US have exploded over the past two weeks, as the newly discovered Omicron strain begins to take hold in the country. 

America is currently averaging 198,326 cases every day, a 68 percent increase over the past two weeks. Deaths and hospitalizations have not followed, though. 

The US has not recorded a higher seven-day case average since January 19, the backside of the nation’s most devastating COVID surge to date. 

The country is averaging 71,302 hospitalizations every day, only an eight percent increase over two weeks. Deaths are up three percent during that time span to 1,328 per day. 

This could be a signal of the Omicron variant – which accounts for 73 percent of cases in the US, according to most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – being more mild than other strains. 

Deaths and hospitalizations do lag behind cases, though, and a similar spike could be seen in those metrics soon as well, though. 

Despite the surge, US health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. 

Despite the surge, the CDC on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine

CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. 

The quarantine guidance is not a mandate; it’s a recommendation to employers and state and local officials. 

Last week, New York state said it would expand on the CDC’s guidance for health-care workers to include employees who have other critical jobs that are facing a severe staffing shortage.

The new recommendations said workers could go back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms. The agency said isolation time could be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages. 

Meanwhile, Americans have been told by Fauci to cancel big parties as the Omicron variant tears across the nation. 

Daily cases have spiked in recent weeks, up 68 percent over the past two weeks, and America’s top infectious disease expert warns that things will only worsen in the near future. 

Fauci told ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) that the surge may only be beginning, and that Americans should expect the situation to exacerbate over the coming weeks.

‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s for sure,’ he said. 

‘We don’t expect things are going to turn around in a few days to a week. It likely will take much longer than that. But that’s unpredictable.’

The Omicron variant, which was first discovered by South African health officials in late November, is the most mutated COVID strain yet. It has more than 50 mutations, including 37 on the spike protein targeted by the COVID vaccines

The Omicron variant, which was first discovered by South African health officials in late November, is the most mutated COVID strain yet. It has more than 50 mutations, including 37 on the spike protein targeted by the COVID vaccines

The Omicron variant, which was first discovered by South African health officials in late November, is the most mutated COVID strain yet. It has more than 50 mutations, including 37 on the spike protein targeted by the COVID vaccines 

According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, and 64.5 million people have received their booster shot

According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, and 64.5 million people have received their booster shot

According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, and 64.5 million people have received their booster shot 

Fauci says it’s not possible to predict when the Omicron variant surge will come to an end because different countries have seen varied patterns.  

‘Each demography of a country is different,’ he said.  

The Omicron variant, which was first discovered by South African health officials in late November, is the most mutated COVID strain yet. 

It has more than 50 mutations, including 37 on the spike protein targeted by the COVID vaccines.

The U.S. confirmed 10,179 cases of the variant as of Tuesday morning, though the real case figure is likely much higher. Only two other countries have confirmed more cases than that of the U.S. 

Research performed by vaccine manufacturers and independent health experts have repeatedly found that the initial vaccine regimens – two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – are not effective at preventing infection from the variant.

Scientists and the pharmaceutical and biotechnical companies insist, however, that additional booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs can re-establish protection.

According to CDC data, 72 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, and 64.5 million people have received their booster shot.

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