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.

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President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new COVID mandates during his presidential address to the nation. Expressing frustration with Americans who refuse to get vaccinated to put an end to the year-and-half-long pandemic, President Biden extended vaccine mandates for all federal workers and businesses that do business with the federal government.

President Joe Biden speaks about combatting the coronavirus pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House on September 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

As White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki previewed during Wednesday’s press briefing, the president’s next phase in the fight against the pandemic targets both the public and private sectors, which reportedly applies to as many as 100 million Americans.

Biden also issued six steps for ending COVID-19 and explained what the fight will look like in the months ahead.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” said Biden, who acknowledged that the United States is in a “tough stretch” and pandemic “could last for awhile.”

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?

Black boy wearing mask
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

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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