SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria Tuesday said he agreed with President Joe Biden's speech on the latest resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly Biden's focus on vaccinations.
"This president understands that the way out of the pandemic is through vaccines. Vaccines are safe, effective, free and widely available," Gloria said. "Everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and boosted should do so as soon as possible to protect their families, neighbors and communities."
San Diego County's case rates have risen significantly in the last several days, with more than 1,000 cases reported three of the last four days, the first time that has happened since the summer spike.
"Local experts predict that San Diego will experience a surge in the coming days," Gloria said. "Hospitals across the nation are filling up with unvaccinated individuals, delaying care for all patients, including victims of car accidents and other trauma. Everyone is affected when our health care system becomes overburdened.
"My message to San Diegans is simple: get vaccinated. Do not wait," he added. "It's up to each one of us to protect each other and support stability in our health care system by vaxxing and masking to stop the spread of COVID-19."
In his speech Tuesday, Biden attempted to reassure Americans they could go about their holiday plans in spite of the surge in Omicron variant COVID-19 cases by announcing several efforts to combat the virus.
"I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends," Biden said. "The answer is, yes you can if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you've gotten your booster shot."
He also warned those who have declined to get shots that they run a much higher risk of becoming ill or hospitalized, and said unvaccinated people have a duty to their families and their country to get vaccinated.
Biden also announced the purchase of 500 million at-home rapid COVID- 19 tests, to be available for free next month and sent through the mail.
"To be clear, we're not sending a test to every single home in the country," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday's White House press briefing. "We are providing an opportunity, another opportunity or ability for people to ... go on a website and request a test if their preference is to get that test to their home. Not everybody will do that. But we want people who want to do that, who want to get tested, who want to request test that way to have that ability to do (it)."
Some said the testing plan was too little, too late.
"A start (finally), but billions are needed to help prevent spread," Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, wrote on Twitter.
The White House said the first deliveries of the tests should begin next month and a website to order them will also launch after the New Year.
Biden also revealed a plan for 1,000 medical military service members to deploy to hospitals across the country in January and February.
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