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Whitmer and Biden urge people to get vaccine and booster shot amidst Omicron surge and holiday traveling

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President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and President Joe Biden both held press conferences on Tuesday, Dec. 21 pleading for Americans to get vaccinated and tested before the holidays. Biden also announced expansion on testing and vaccine clinics as well as more equipment for hospitals.

The Omicron variant has made a big impact on the spread of the virus in the U.S. in a short period of time, making up 73% of all new cases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With the recent surge in the new variant, Tuesday afternoon Biden urged American citizens to get vaccinated.

“All these people who have not been vaccinated, you have an obligation to yourselves, to your family, and quite frankly, I know I will get criticized for this, to your country,” Biden said. “Get vaccinated now. It’s free, it’s convenient –  and I promise you – it saves lives, and I honestly believe it is your patriotic duty.”

Biden said that holiday gatherings and traveling are okay as long as everyone in the party is fully vaccinated.

Biden pledged 500 million at-home tests to be made available for free along with more testing and vaccination sites. Biden also announced he will be deploying 1,000 troops with medical skills in hospitals as well as giving more equipment such as gowns and masks to hospitals.

Whitmer started out her Tuesday morning press conference by stating the importance of getting the vaccine along with the booster shot.

“If you’re unvaccinated, now is a great time to get vaccinated,” Whitmer said. “More than 6.2 million of your fellow Michiganders have gotten the vaccine and 240 million of your fellow Americans have been vaccinated. They greatly reduce the risk of getting sick and vastly reduce your risk of being hospitalized, and have saved millions of lives, so please now is the time.”

Whitmer also gave time for health care workers, the Director of Michigan Health and Human services, a small business owner and a pastor the chance to speak. All speakers continued Whitmer’s call to action of getting vaccinated, getting the booster shot, and also speaking to parents about getting their kids vaccinated.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have never taken care of a patient dying from the vaccine. I have taken care of dozens and dozens who are dead from this virus,” said Pulmonary Critical Care Specialist, Dr. Shelley Schmidt. “…This is not a game. This is not about ratings or readership or polls. This is about 800,000 American lives and this is preventable.”

Even with the surge, both Whitmer and Biden pledged that another shutdown will not happen because of the amount of information we have on the virus, the amount of vaccinated citizens, and the fact that the U.S. is prepared to fight the virus compared to the early stages of the pandemic.

“We should all be concerned about the Omicron virus, but not panicked,” Biden said. “… This is not March of 2020. Two hundred million people are fully vaccinated. We’re prepared, we know more. We just have to stay focused.”

Grand Rapids Community College ended the semester with 219 COVID-19 cases reported. As students go into the winter semester, GRCC urges students to wear masks and follow the safety guidelines presented at the college.

“Our campus leaders are focused on the health and safety of our students, employees and communities as we head into the break,” said GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray in an email to The Collegiate. “It’s important to recognize we are all in this together, and we all play a role in protecting the people on our campus.

“We encourage our students to continue following the established safety protocols that have proven to be effective, including social distancing and using face coverings, as we head into the next semester,” Murray continued. “We know vaccines and booster shots have proven to be effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization, and our hope is to have additional vaccination clinics on our campus in the months ahead. We encourage students to recognize the symptoms, and stay home if they are not feeling well.”

The U.S. has now surpassed 51 million cases and 800,000 deaths due to the virus.

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