Biden addresses nation on COVID as Black children see alarming uptick in illness

EXCLUSIVE: Medical statistics show that of all children, Black and Latino boys are hit hardest by infections and hospitalization.

Vaccine and testing mandates are said to be part of President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on COVID-19. The president has already begun to issue vaccine mandates for federal workers, but on Thursday it is expected to be extended across that workforce’s landscape.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 08: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on workers rights and labor unions in the East Room at the White House on September 08, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden spoke on the need to protect workers rights and the middle class. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged during Wednesday’s press briefing that the president will build on some of the current efforts and focus on the next phase in the fight against the pandemic working with the public and private sector. 

Additionally, the president is expected to issue six steps for ending COVID-19 and explain what the fight looks like in the months ahead. His speech will also likely examine school openings and economic recovery.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday that the pandemic isn’t even modestly under good control. An uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in school children and a new variant are highlighting his declaration and bringing forth more uncertainty about when the United States will overcome the pandemic.

Dr. Melissa Clarke, a member of the Black Coalition Against Covid and the advisory group of the D.C. Department of Health on the safe and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, told theGrio there are 13 variants the medical community is keeping an eye on. 

“We’re up to Mu [variant] too. So and actually, the ones that are named are the ones that appear to be causing higher levels of infection. But there literally have been probably thousands and thousands of variants, but they just haven’t been significant,” said Clarke.

So what’s the impact of the variants and virus at large on school children?

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that nationwide more than a quarter of weekly COVID-19 cases are children. There has also been a 250% increase in cases in the last five weeks. 

Medical statistics show that of all children, Black and Latino boys are hit hardest by infections and hospitalization. Dr. Clarke explained, “we’re seeing more Black and Brown boys getting sicker and ending up in the hospital due to COVID-19.” 

COVID illness is compounded by multi-system inflammatory syndrome associated with the virus that happens even after a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID a week or two later — that can happen in the inner organs, the brain, the heart and lungs. What’s alarming is that this is seen predominantly in children. 

This added “disease is actually seen six times more often in Black children and four times more often in Latino children. So that’s separate and apart from COVID itself,” added Clarke.

Schools across the country like the Los Angeles school district are responding to the spike in cases by putting forth votes to mandate vaccines for all students 12 and older. But reports indicate that if a parent is not vaccinated they will be less likely to get their child inoculated.

“The vaccine is like an airbag in your car. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have an accident, but it will protect you from severe damage if you do have an accident, which would be equivalent to being exposed to the coronavirus,” explained Dr. Clarke.

She adds, “the seatbelt is like a mask and our traffic signals are like social distancing. If we ignore the traffic signals, we’re going to get into accidents. And so what I say to people who have not had their children who are eligible to be vaccinated, those 12 and above, it’s like having your child in the car without an airbag in the front seat, doing all the things you know are not safe in order to navigate the road.”

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