When omicron arrives, and it will, Biden said, America will “face this new threat just as we’ve faced those that have come before it.”

President Joe Biden called the new coronavirus variant omicron a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic” Monday and said he was not considering any widespread U.S. lockdown. He urged Americans anew to get fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and return to face masks indoors in public settings to slow any spread.

Speaking Monday at the White House, Biden said it was inevitable that the new variant would reach the U.S., but he also said the country has the tools necessary to protect Americans — particularly the approved vaccines and booster shots.

When omicron arrives, and it will, Biden said, America will “face this new threat just as we’ve faced those that have come before it.”

He appealed to the roughly 80 million unvaccinated Americans aged 5 and up to get their shots, and for the rest of the country to seek out booster shots six months after their second dose. He also encouraged everyone to get back to wearing face masks in all indoor public settings — a pandemic precaution that has fallen out of use across much of the country.

Biden was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the president’s COVID-19 adviser, who said earlier Monday that scientists hope to know in the next week or two how well the existing COVID-19 vaccines protect against the varian t, and how dangerous it is compared to earlier strains.

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