OnPolitics: Free, at-home COVID tests to be available in January

President Joe Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated as he discussed the new variant omicron.

Happy Tuesday, OnPolitics readers!

If you're still working this week, thanks for reading the newsletter; if you're off, lucky you!

One housekeeping note: Today is the last edition of OnPolitics until next year, but have no fear. We (Amy and Mabinty) still have lots of news to fill you in on. 

Now on to the news you need to know ...

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the purchase of a half-billion, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests and the mobilization of 1,000 military medical personnel to overburdened hospitals, as officials confront for a new surge in infections driven by the omicron variant.

The president unveiled the stepped-up measures in a speech from the White House as the nation – already fatigued by a pandemic that's lasted nearly two years –faces surging COVID-19 infections. 

Biden said Americans will be able to request the free-at-home COVID-19 tests be mailed to their homes by accessing an online website. It comes as shortages have led to long lines and overwhelmed hospitals in hot spots while Americans crisscross the country for the holiday season.

The winter blues: The moves come as the country faces a new stumbling block in the fight against COVID-19: Federal health officials announced Monday the omicron variant accounted for 73% of new cases last week, a nearly six-fold increase in the new variant’s share of infections in only one week.

In other Biden news: A White House aide who was in close contact with Biden on Friday tested positive for the coronavirus Monday, the White House announced Monday evening. Biden tested negative through an antigen test Sunday and a PCR test Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Over on Capitol Hill: A Republican congressman who reportedly advised former President Donald Trump's White House on attempts to subvert the 2020 election said Tuesday he would not cooperate with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said in a statement that the Jan. 6 committee is "illegitimate" and added: "I decline this entity’s request and will continue to fight the failures of the radical Left who desperately seek distraction."

Across the pond: A British court on Tuesday ordered the ruler of Dubai to pay his ex-wife and their children nearly 550 million pounds (about $730 million), in one of the most expensive divorce settlements in British history

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The top stories from 2021

A lot has happened this year (and props to you for getting through it!). In case you needed a reminder of ~all the things~ that happened this year, here's a look back at the biggest stories from 2021:

  • Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol: The events of Jan. 6 shocked a nation watching on Twitter and TV. A pro-Trump mob battled police, broke into the U.S. Capitol and sent members of Congress fleeing as lawmakers were counting Electoral College votes to confirm the presidential victory of Democrat Joe Biden. 
  • Biden's inauguration: President Joe Biden was official sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021. He became the oldest person to become president of the United States. 
  • The second impeachment of Donald Trump: The House impeached President Donald Trump for inciting an “insurrection” at the Capitol. Ten Republicans broke from their party – and their president – to join Democrats in approving the single article of impeachment. Trump became the first president in the nation’s 245-year history to be impeached twice. 
  • The U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan: U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated as the fundamentalist Taliban took over, and dozens of people, including 13 U.S. service members, were killed in an attack at the Kabul airport by militant group ISIS-K. 
  • Colin Powell, first Black secretary of state, passes away: Colin Powell, the trailblazing military commander and first Black secretary of state whose career was defined in part by America's two wars with Iraq, died in October of COVID-19-related complications. Powell reportedly had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that makes it difficult to fight infections.
  • Historic elections took place around the country: In November, tight races resulted in new leaders in states such as New Jersey and Massachusetts. Most notably, Republican Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Democrat Phil Murphy of New Jersey won their gubernatorial races. 
  • Biden's landmark infrastructure package becomes law: Biden signed into law a sweeping bipartisan infrastructure package, completing the most significant legislative victory of his presidency and the largest investment in the country’s infrastructure in decades. The bill, priced at $1.2 trillion, focused on public transportation, roads, bridges, ports, railways, power grids and broadband internet, as well as water and sewage systems.
  • Bob Dole, former GOP presidential candidate and longtime senator, dies at 98: Former Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas lawmaker and decorated World War II veteran who never realized his ambitions to win the presidency but left an indelible mark on the nation’s capital and history, died in early December. He was 98.
  • U.S. hits 800,000 deaths from COVID-19: The nation surpassed 800,000 coronavirus deaths as 1,200 Americans die from the coronavirus every day; the delta and omicron variants drive an infections spike. Track coronavirus outbreaks across the U.S. here

We're wishing you happy holidays! We'll see you in 2022 🎉🥳 — Amy and Mabinty